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Daily Nuggets: A For Impact Blog

Administrative Types and Entrepreneurial Types

A friend and leader introduced me to the work and thinking of Ichak Adizes, Ph. D.

Through extensive and credible work with corporate leaders, Dr. Adizes has developed an incredible framework to diagnose and manage the lifecycle of an organization. I’m reading Managing Corporate Lifecycles and have to stop to make about six notes on each page. The insights are profound, practical, and clear!!! I dare say his thinking is… Drucker-like!

Here’s just one little nugget – distinguishing ‘Administrative Types’ and ‘Entrepreneurial Types’.

The entrepreneurial type asks, “What else can we do?”

The administrative type asks, “What less can we do?”

A Dashboard to Measure and Manage Fundraising (Sales)

We’re often asked about ways to MEASURE and MANAGE the fundraising (read: sales) function of organizations. Here is the simple sales dashboard we use: The For Impact Green Sheet.

It measures ACTIVITY and PRODUCTIVITY – Visits. Asks. Results.

“Spend more time with better prospects.” – Brian Tracy

Here are three instances in which we use the For Impact Green Sheet with clients:

  • When we’re building a Sales Model/Team – to create alignment and a culture of philanthropy.The Green Sheet becomes a clear illustration of what matters. People start asking questions like, “How do we get more visits?” Or, “Why are we doing another mail appeal? Will it help us identify more leads?”
  • For Campaign Management.In addition to broad campaign goals, the sales dashboard is a view into all elements of a comprehensive campaign. See Today/Tomorrow/Forever Funding Model.
  • To coach and develop talent!This is an important note for ‘sales managers’ and ‘sales leaders.’ We need this dashboard (or something similar) not only for accountability, but to effectively COACH and DEVELOP talent. In fact, you really need these three things:
    • A Master Prospect List /Action Plan: You need to know the priority prospects.
    • The For Impact Green Sheet.
    • Call Memos. It’s challenging to coach someone without knowing what actually happened on a visit.

Links to definitions:

Designing Context

For the past few years I’ve been on big kick around CONTEXT.

Strategy, sales, leadership, communication or coaching is VERY responsive to CONTEXT. Most people nod in agreement when I make this point… but think about the last time you were in a strategy session (of any kind!!!) where you took a deliberate time-out to examine CONTEXT.

I just received the latest issue of Rotman Management from the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto. This magazine is – hands down – my favorite for ‘design-thinking’.

This issues is dedicated to changing behavior! Karen Christensen, the editor writes, “At it’s core, every organization is in the same business: changing behavior. For-profit companies try to saw consumers to buy their products; governments try to convince citizens to pay their taxes on time; and an NGO might want to encourage families to sign up for tuition support for their children.”

Buried in the first article is this little nugget about DESIGNING CONTEXT! “We know from Psychology that context influences choice, it should be possible to design contexts to steer choices to a desired outcome.”

Great sales designs the CONTEXT through PREDISPOSITION, the FLOW of the VISIT, and TEAM SELLING (that is, determining the context of the team that will engage with the prospect.)

Commit to Sales – Video Nugget

We intentionally use the the word ‘SALES’ for these reasons:

  • As a contrast to ‘marketing’
    So much of traditional fundraising is about building relationships, donor acquisition, stewardship, or awareness. But if you’re doing ‘that event’ to BUILD relationships then it begs the question, what are you doing to MAXIMIZE relationships?
  • To emphasize Sales as a ‘world of knowledge’“You’re in sales, get over it!” – Tom Suddes

    Once we accept, embrace and SEEK ‘sales’ it opens a world of professional development, learning, and systems.

  • To emphasize the importance of a professional, face-to-face presentation!
    A commitment to sales requires a process, a presentation, follow up and much more!

If you’re someone that says, “Sales is not for me!” here is a definition we hope will entice you to stick around:

“Sales is not a business transaction. It is first and foremost the forging of the human connection.” – Bob Burg

Click here to view video (5:48)

If an organization were TRULY COMMITTED TO SALES we would see these key attributes:

  • (Focus on) PROSPECTS. Prospects. Drive. Everything.There would be no silos. We wouldn’t organize according to events, planned giving, annual fund – We would organize around prospects! (Think: Prospect portfolios and assigned Relationship Managers.)

    97/3!!! 97% of the funds come from 3% of your prospects! We would FOCUS on the 3%!

    Salespeople would be OUT OF THE OFFICE (visiting with prospects).

  • PROCESS! The team would commit to a SALES PROCESS. That process would focus on prospect strategy and making visits and asks. It would not be designed around events, direct mail, and shotgunning grant applications.
  • TEAM!The team would use TEAM SELLING. Adding to the previous points (about PROSPECTS and PROCESS) the team would be structured around helping Salespeople make visits and asks.
  • MATH! The team would KNOW THE MATH.It would have goals, plans, and metrics. (We’ll share more on metrics and a ‘sales dashboard’ in next week’s W.O.W. Email.)
  • ATTITUDE!And perhaps the most important attribute is attitude. You can coach around everything else but you can’t coach a bad attitude. There is no room for Eeyore on the Sales Team.

Speaking at AFP International Fundraising Conference

Kerry and I are spending time this week at the AFP’s International Fundraising Conference in San Francisco. If you’re here, come find us! We delivered a session this am: BE FOR IMPACT! It was great to share the point of view, napkins, some stories about Walt Disney and more!

Here are the slides!


Most people (not ‘nonprofit people,’ just people in general) don’t know HOW to engage… how to create engagement… how to be deliberate in communication so that the other person is engaged. And yet, we always hear that you want more engaged customers, staff, funders, relationships and board members!

First, let’s define ENGAGEMENT: a dynamic within a relationship which holds attention, heightens interest and motivates action.

Attention! Interest! Action!

How do we maximize Attention, Interest and Action? How do we MAXIMIZE ENGAGEMENT?

  1. Ask Questions. Then Listen. Or, Just Listen. No better way to engage than to listen. Also, when a person speaks it engages his or her brain fully.
  2. Be 1:1. It’s tough to listen to a room of 200. Heck, it’s hard to listen to 12 board members at a meeting!
  3. Use Visuals! They are several studies, but all conclude that visual learners make up more than half of our population!
  4. Better than Visuals, Create a Memorable Experience. If a picture is worth a 1000 words than a tour or an experience with your impact is worth many more.
  5. DRAW! Create a visual experience with the prospect. We love using 2’x3′ ENGAGEMENT TOOLS – these make the case for support visual and they offer plenty of white space in which to draw while you’re visiting with someone. Picture two people standing over a blue-print – Pointing, Talking, Moving – giving your case meaning. This is Engagement.
  6. Predispose. Predisposing someone to your visit or your conversation provides clarity ahead of the visit – making it easier to hold attention and create interest.
  7. Be Simple. We need order. We need simplicity. If things are complex, you’ve lost my attention because I’m trying to figure out what you’re saying.
  8. Be Specific with an Ask. If the stated goal is to create action then you need to let the other person know what the action looks like. Being specific in an ask directs attention and let’s me know what action to contemplate. In the funding sense, you must ASK in order for me do something.

If we focused on ENGAGING in this way:

  • We would worry much less about ‘what to say’ and instead think about what questions to ask.
  • We would probably burn Powerpoints in effigy and stand around flip charts with markers instead.
  • We would ditch ‘special events’ in favor of one-on-one, engaging visits.

The Most Focusing WHY Question for Leaders and Visionaries

Start with Why is a best selling book and one of the most viewed Ted Talks of all time. Simon Sinek introduces the concept in the context of marketing but the importance of ‘starting with WHY’ applies to all dimensions of communications, management, and leadership.

The WHY question is one of incredible utility.

This nugget is about moving from utility to power (i.e. GREATEST IMPACT and FOCUS) through more nuanced WHY questions.

There are dozens of ‘WHY’ questions. To name a handful…

  • Why (are we doing this)?
  • What is our purpose?Note: Do not be fooled. ‘What is our purpose’ is a WHY QUESTION.
  • What’s our mission?
  • What’s our reason for existence? Raison d’etre?
  • What’s our cause? Or, for WHAT do we stand?

The reason we use the Altitude Framework is because it represents ALL of these questions (at 30,000′). The mental picture here is that of a kaleidoscope; depending on which way you turn the WHY question you’re going to get a slightly different picture at 30,000′.

In the WHY kaleidoscope, one question consistently has the greatest power to focus and guide:


This question sharpens the WHY. It takes it somewhere.

Toward what end does your organization exist?
We want to start a new program. Toward what end?

Communication is an art. To land on the right clarity and communication, leaders should play around with the entire ‘WHY-kaleidoscope’. If one WHY question isn’t teasing out enough power, or focus, shift to another question.

Start with: Toward what end?

The Assumptive Close

In the sales world, there is such thing as an ‘assumptive close’. This is where a sales person ASSUMES the customer is ready to buy – So they skip past the close and work on the mechanics. For example, “Tell me when you would like to take receipt of your item and we can get started on the paperwork.” 

In our social impact world, I’d like to repurpose The Assumptive Close. I don’t think of this as a closing technique, instead, I think of it as an attitude and a mode of communication that helps you continue toward a closed commitment.

There are times when a prospect is CLEARLY ‘in’, but we haven’t yet confirmed the commitment. Perhaps you had a great visit and the prospect said, “I want to help – financially – give me some time to look at my other obligations…”
If I were to coach you through this follow up strategy, I’d say, don’t think about HOW or IF you’re going to have a numbers conversation on the next visit. Instead, remember the prospect has already said, “I’m IN!!!!”  

So, you can continue to move forward with this ASSUMPTION in the next conversation.  

Too often, we see uncertainty and doubt creep in. I was with an Executive Director last week, and in this case, she was trying to figure out how to bring up the gift again. She had doubt about the commitment and – absent of a mental model – moved backward and started trying to figure out how to ask – again. Just thinking about this as an ‘Assumptive Close’ helped her frame the next conversation.

The predisposition (framing) for the next conversation was as simple as this: “I’m looking forward to getting together tomorrow and talking next steps. It’s great to know you’re ‘in’. We are so incredibly grateful for your support.”

You can ASSUME it will close and you can communicate with that belief in mind!

The Zeigarnik Effect

I picked this nugget up while reading Deep Work, by Cal Newport.

The Zeigarnik Effect describes the effect of incomplete tasks to dominate our attention.

Newport introduces this effect in the context of discussing the processing powers of the conscious and subconscious minds. He says it’s important to ‘shut down’ (the conscious mind) routinely – both for the sake of resting the conscious mind AND in order to let the subconscious mind do it’s work; the brain literally needs to switch modes of thinking.

Some tasks require deep focus of the conscious mind – like writing and math. Other things are more complex and can be better solved by the subconscious mind.

Note: I recently read that our conscious mind can process 32 bits of information at one time and our subconscious mind can process BILLIONS of information at once! (Source: Stealing Fire).

Newport suggests we are prone to leave action items open, or incomplete. They then dominate our attention. I know I’ve experienced this — processing the same to-do over-and-over. This is the Zeigarnik Effect.

Newport describes how he shuts down work each evening. He closes up action items and writes up the plan for the next day. This helps to turn off the conscious mind.

Incomplete tasks both dominate our attention AND (therefor) rob you of the ability to switch modes; they wear down your conscious processing mind AND they prevent you from using your supercomputer — the subconscious mind. So, beware the Zeigarnik Effect!

Predisposition – Video Nugget


This is a crucial part of the selling process.

Our definition would not work well in a dictionary but here it is: Predisposition is EVERYTHING you can do to make the visit NOT a COLD CALL.

We all know what a ‘cold call’ is… so what can we do to make it NOT a cold call? It includes your strategy to secure the visit but it’s much more than that.. it’s about setting the total CONTEXT and the STORY for the visit / ask.

We need to be predisposing to these three things:

  1. The cause or the case.
  2. The ask.
  3. The team. (WHO ARE YOU?)

Effective predisposition accelerates the entire sales cycle.

Here is a short video nugget to help you understand and leverage PREDISPOSITION.

(Click here to view the video if it’s not loading in your email / browser.)