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Small Actions Big Impact: How One Act of Kindness Affected 300 People

We all have times when someone — a donor, a volunteer, a friend, or someone in your family — does something to support you and it’s very helpful. You’re grateful. You thank them for their kind gesture. And then you move on.

We’ll this time, for me, is different.

A couple of days ago I was up on a stage, connecting this laptop I’m typing on to a projector at the conference where I was about to speak. It was the first time I was going to deliver a session at the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) international conference. So, needless to say, I had some nerves. Some sweaty palms. You get it.

The room before it filled up.

The room before it filled up.

For some reason, my laptop and the projector were having trouble communicating. The image on the huge screen would flicker on and off and on and off. After a few minutes the image disappeared completely.

This went on for about 15 minutes and people were starting to arrive for my session.

Watching from her seat was a young woman who had arrived nearly 45 minutes before the session was to start. She’d seen the conversation unfolding and quietly and calmly said, “Lori, would you like to use my laptop?”

I looked up at this woman and tears came to my eyes. She didn’t know me. She didn’t have to even pay attention to what was unfolding. And she generously offered to give up her note-taking tool to allow me to deliver my session. WOW.

After switching out computers and making sure things worked I was able to deliver my Advanced Storytelling session to a room of more than 300 people.

A room full of eager storytellers!

A room full of eager storytellers!

IMG_2608None of this would have happened if not for one person’s kindness. Because development officer Heather Hannon, from Harrisburg Area Community College, was so generous and kind I was able to share my work.

Heather’s action impacted more than 300 people in that room who serve thousands in their communities. The people at the session got to learn how to share their people and money stories so they can raise more money for their amazing nonprofits. Yes, the content was mine, but the ability to deliver it was made possible by a small act of kindness from someone I’d never met before.

Because of Heather I was reminded that we ALL have people in our lives and our work taking small and big actions that have a ripple effect.

Let your donors and volunteers know their gestures DO have a huge impact.

I am grateful beyond words to Heather Hannon. She’s changing the world.

She certainly changed mine.


  • Diana DuBois says:

    Thanks for sharing the story!

  • Angela says:

    Wonderful! So many small acts go unnoticed by us all. This is a wonderful reminder to highlight the great things that people do every day.

    • Michelle says:

      Love this! It’s a reminder to always ACT in such circumstances that we all come across–somewhere,somehow, nearly everyday! Seemingly small acts DO make the world of difference–and the human connections that we make along the way are so gratifying. Thank you, Lori, for sharing!

  • michele caruso says:

    I attended your master story teller class last week and I must say YOU ignited me!!!! Your presentation was just the right mix of facts and compelling arguments for the need to practice our stories…and use them. I am now planning to share some of your insights with the Friends Board that I sit on at Jack and Jill Children’s Center. I also want to want to create a form that asks open ended questions that our staff, teachers, and parents can fill out to help them to tell their story….or maybe to use as a catalyst to assist them in narrating their story to someone else. There are so many wonderful things that happen every day and I think it is difficult for many of us to organize them into a compelling story.
    I would never have guessed that you were a little frazzled when you spoke so eloquently that morning. I am glad Heather was there for you. We all need to “take notice” of the small things we can do that may be a really “big deal” to others.

  • Kristen says:

    Hi-fives, Heather Hannon! I, too, am grateful for your kindness. I got a lot out of this session, which I’m hoping will impact our supporters. So really, if I get to implement even one story telling tip I learned at Lori’s session and it has moderate success, the impact of Heather’s act of kindness stretches way beyond the 300 at the conference.

  • Lori:
    I did not attend the AFP conference, however I did attend your workshop in Mpls and the one you delivered here at our org – it has made all the difference in the way we think and share information about our mission. We have implemented every bit of advice you gave us and everyone in the organization has a couple of stories that they share on a regular basis. We begin nearly every meeting with a story and now our Board Members are sharing their stories and it is making a difference!! So thank you for teaching us that anyone can tell a story and it can have an impact! You have changed our lives!!!!

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