“Once you lose your enthusiasm, you lose your integrity. And once you lose your integrity, you’re a con man.” —Russ Reid
Yes, there is a Russ Reid. He’s the man who started it all. A man who dreamed of creating a company that would help nonprofit organizations make a bigger difference in the world. Heal the sick. Feed the hungry. House the homeless. Give hope where there was none.
Russ realized that dream when he founded the Russ Reid Company in 1964. Today, what started as Russ’ desire to make a difference has grown into the largest agency in the world devoted exclusively to helping nonprofits grow.
But it almost didn’t happen. Russ had originally trained for a life in the ministry. However, he soon realized that he would be better suited to market ministries than lead them.
In 1966, Russ got a project from World Vision. It was the beginning of a partnership that would span decades and change countless lives. Working with World Vision, an ongoing client since that time, has led the Russ Reid Company to a lot of growth. A lot of change. And a lot of firsts. In fact, it was Russ who suggested and helped develop World Vision’s first television special, exposing a wider audience to children in desperate need of sponsorship. It was the beginning of television fundraising for World Vision, and for many of Russ Reid’s clients.
Along the way, Russ noticed some wonderful organizations doing great work to help others. But he realized they didn’t know how to tell their own stories. Or how to raise money.
As a result of our success for World Vision in the U.S., in 1977 World Vision Canada asked for fundraising assistance. Today World Vision Canada is the largest child sponsorship organization in Canada. In 1982, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital turned to Russ for help with their telethon. The phones rang. And they still do 30 years later. That same year, Russ Reid was approached by Habitat for Humanity. In the first five years of that partnership, Russ helped acquire 619,000 new donors and launched Habitat into one of the most respected nonprofit brands in the world.
And the breakthroughs kept coming. Russ’ tremendous success with the Los Angeles Mission in the late 1980s led to the agency working with Rescue Missions across the U.S. and Canada. In the decades that followed, our nation’s Food Banks also turned to Russ Reid for fundraising success.
There are many more stories and case studies to be shared. Russ retired in 2001 but his heart and soul infuse the Russ Reid culture to this day. In fact, we still live and work by many of his words today. Especially one sentiment Russ said well, and said often: “I want to make sure that we always work for organizations and people we believe passionately in.”