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Article by Mel Ulle

Last week, I was notified by my bank that the Payroll Protection Program, (PPP), had run out of funding and that we would not receive the dollars we had requested. Money that we legitimately needed. At the same time, I was hearing about friends and colleagues who HAD received dollars. One received around $1 million, and another received over $2 million. I heard about Shake Shack and I heard about Ruth’s Chris and their enormous PPP packages.

Of course, I am not an idiot. I understand that I employ fewer people at my little company. I recognize that my economic impact might appear smaller than that of other companies. But I contend that I matter. My little company (that I have busted my ass building for almost ten years), matters. My employees matter. We matter!

The news that we didn’t receive PPP funding devastated me. Like… to the point where I couldn’t stop crying for actual days. Maybe it was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I could have fallen apart because I had been staying strong for too many weeks as I lost client, after client, after client, after client. Or maybe it was the anger I feel for pitching work that doesn’t pay 1/3 of my value- and still not getting it. It could have been the sheer terror and exasperation that has led me to drastically cut my personal compensation in order to help my team. The feeling of utter failure in letting my team down and asking them to reduce their compensation while working more hours probably didn’t help matters.

Maybe it was hearing from friends about actual scamming BY PEOPLE THEY KNOW. Or hearing that my sister-in-law was in a meeting during which someone said they received their relief check and planned to use it to buy a nice pair of shoes.

Maybe it was knowing that events, which are a huge part of my business probably won’t happen until 2021. It could’ve been any number of things building up and pushing my brain past the bounds of sanity.

But all of those complaints, and they are legitimate complaints, are not what I think finally broke me last week. I think the hardest part was feeling like other companies mattered to banks, but that my company wasn’t important enough to matter. I have a banker who sincerely cares about me, but does her bank? Why wasn’t I at the front of the line? What pushed me behind? Why didn’t I matter as much as the next guy?

I don’t have a PhD in economics, but I can do some very basic math. One client last year paid us $6,500 per month. We are professional fundraisers and we come in to help raise funds for various nonprofits and initiatives. That client paid us $78,000 over the course of 12 months. In turn, we raised $1.3 million. I would take that ROI every time. Every time.

Another client paid us $8,500 per month for 18 months and we raised $3 million for them. Again, not a bad investment. I would take that every time. Every. Time.

We aren’t always successful, but by the grace of God, we usually are… and what happens when we are? Schools are built, scholarships are funded, campaigns are won, organizations are born. And then what happens? Kids are educated, students attend college-maybe for the first time, tax revenue funds important programs like museums, and parks, new organizations bloom and develop programs that give beds to the homeless or food to the hungry. We f#$%#@ing matter. What we do matters. It impacts this entire state, and sometimes the country and sometimes the world.

I am praying, (again), that my company receives funding from the PPP when the next tranche is passed. My team matters just as much as anyone else’s team. Just because we’re small doesn’t mean that we are insignificant.


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