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Story

Put a Wrapper Around Your Impact and Sell as an Initiative

Increasing enrollment in economically distressed areas is a mouth full, but, what if it you called it an ‘Urban Schools Initiative?’

Case management + domestic violence counseling + parenting skills workshops is hard to explain to funders (and nobody wants to fund Case Management because nobody’s really sure what it means) so what if all this together were a ‘Healthy Families Initiative’?

Think about the great works you do that don’t fall under a clear project, program or priority and then put a wrapper around it and give it a new name, a new initiative or a way to FRAME your impact that is simple and easy to understand.

This is more than just window dressing and buzz words. It’s you taking credit for what you do and explaining in a way that communicates the totality, the gravity, the impact of your greatest ‘activities’ that don’t fall cleanly into a bucket.

“We have a scholarship program and everyone wants to fund that but we need to replace the tiles in our hallway and add another janitor.” So what you’re saying is one of this year’s PRIORITIES is funding a WORLD CLASS LEARNING ENVIRONMENT.

“We do research and everyone wants to come on board once a trial seems to work but we need to fund our operations for all the other projects.” Ahhhh.. so what you’re saying is you don’t do operations. You do INNOVATION. Let’s drop the annual fund. As of today it’s the (ANNUAL) INNOVATION FUND!

In Tom’s campaign book he outline’s 33 Campaign Lessons – #4 is ‘EVERYTHING’S A PROJECT.’  You can put your arms around anything and make it a project, priority, program or INITIATIVE.

Action: Do a brain dump to answer the this question – “Where does the money go?” Most of you will start to create a list — a long list — put a wrapper around some of it! Choose a cool descriptor + initiative. Give the descriptor + initiative a price tag and then (like Emeril): BAM!

We do this exercise at Training Camp. Here is a list from a recent attendee:

  • Research best practices for educating kids
  • Research state content standards
  • Write lessons and curriculum
  • We periodically have to review the curriculum and make updates
  • Print the curriculum
  • Market to teachers, nationally
  • Develop a system for teacher feedback
  • Salaries
  • Develop a professional development course to support teachers
  • Etc. Etc. Etc.

Each item alone is – blah. But here’s what we came up with to communicate these priorities, succinctly…

  1. R&D ($130K)
  2. Publishing ($80K)
  3. Integrated Health Initiative ($230K)

Does number 3 need some explaining? Sure. Is it better than everything else up there? You bet.