About 15 to 20 years ago, Don Kendall, then EWI’s Chairman of the Board, invited the Directors who were on this particular day in New York for breakfast at the River Club. This is one of the fancy clubs in New York, located at East 52nd Street and the East River.
I was, at that time - contrary to today – one of the youngest Directors with a short term of service and obviously somewhat in awe of the distinguished group which was sitting around the table. During breakfast, Don Kendall asked each one of the participants whether he had any suggestions or criticisms as far as the activities of the organization were concerned.
When I was asked, I mentioned that I found it somewhat wasteful that John Mroz and some of his assistants spent an awful lot of time trying to raise money for EWI instead of devoting more time to the programs. I said that a development fund could be the answer to this problem. If each one of the Directors and friends of the Institute made a one time substantial contribution to the fund, this money could be invested and bring income and interest and, over time, make EWI less dependent on the yearly donations which had to be raised.
During the time I was speaking, I saw Don very actively looking for a sheet of paper, then tearing this paper into smaller pieces and looking for envelopes. When I had finished, Don said: “I think this is a pretty good idea and I will give each one of you a piece of paper to write down your name and to indicate the amount you would contribute to the fund.” Don started out as the first contributor and, if my memory is correct, donated a million dollars.
There were a number of rather well-to-do people sitting around the table. I remember especially John Kluge. When Don collected the pieces of paper, he looked at the names and amounts and didn’t say anything until he came to Kluge’s. He said, “John, a million dollars is nothing for you. How about changing this number?” John Kluge was not to be moved on this occasion but later on made some changes in his numbers and this was the start of the development fund.
After reading this, I wonder whether anybody else will be thinking of another “development fund.”
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