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Daily Nuggets: A For Impact Blog

How to Weigh In On the Healthcare Debate


I’m an entrepreneur. (French word for fool.) I was entrepreneur way before it was cool or hot. I have an entrepreneur’s attitude and an entrepreneur’s perspective. (Creative Destroyers, Opportunity Exploiters, Value Creators, Pathfinder Rule Breakers.)

This is not about politics. It’s about the classic dilemma of actually DEFINING THE PROBLEM.

From what I’ve read, nowhere in the four, five, ten different ‘bills’, with over 2,000 pages, is there anything about PREVENTIVE MEDICINE!

According to Alan Deutschman’s provocative Fast Company cover story in May of 2005 (which he turned in full-length book called Change or Die) the healthcare industry consumes almost $2 TRILLION A YEAR in the U.S. alone (15% of our gross domestic product).

80% of this healthcare spending budget is consumed by five behavioral issues: too much smoking, drinking, eating and stress… and not enough exercise.

We know the CAUSE of these health problems. We even know the SOLUTIONS. (more…)

Change Is A Bear


“CHANGE is a bear, but it’s better than death.” Seth Godin

I’m finishing up a book/monograph on CHANGE, titled CHANGE [THE] RULES. I saw a recent post by Seth Godin (Best-Selling Author & Permission Marketing Guru) that ended with the above quote.

We just finished a couple of workshops on the West Coast (San Diego) with 150 people. Great group. Great energy. Great desire to change, but…

Still a lot of issues. Here’s my blunt, authentic, challenging (and I believe relevant) call to action.

STOP worrying about the economy, your Board, budget cuts, etc.

START focusing on the SOLUTION, not on the PROBLEMS.

Right now, you have some cash, some talented staff, and a lot of people who are counting on your for help. (more…)

Transformative Catalytic Philanthropy


Nick and I have recently been having shorthand conversations with each other and with some of the most impactful organizations and institutions in the country.

We have been communicating our For Impact Point of View and our Quantum Leap Framework.

We are hammering (in our usual nice way) on our best coaching clients to find CHAMPIONS who literally want to help CHANGE THE WORLD… through an organization, an institution or program.

Most importantly, we have been having high-level conversations with high-level leaders and high-level funders around one word:

TRANSFORMATION.

Anyone in our For Impact universe who truly gets this TRANSFORMATION word, especially as it relates to funding, needs to read an article in the most recent (Fall 2009) issue of Stanford Social Innovation Review called CATALYTIC PHILANTHROPY. (more…)

“Half the Money You Spend is Wasted”


John Wanamaker, the 19th Century department store magnate, supposedly observed, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted. The trouble is, I don’t know which half.”

After 36 years in this sector and more than 25 years of consulting, coaching and training… I believe the same thing applies to development and fundraising.

“HALF THE MONEY YOU SPEND ON DEVELOPMENT (FUNDRAISING) IS WASTED. YOU JUST DON’T KNOW WHICH HALF.”

    • When I see organizational development (fundraising) budgets, and then see how much net, net, net money is actually raised… it’s appalling.
    • When I look at the money, time and energy that goes into what is supposed to be SPECIAL EVENTS… I’m amazed that anyone would even pretend the Golf Outing is generating Income that is having any significant Impact.
    • When I observe the amount of money spent on people/staff with no clear goals, no measurement, no accountability… I think I know which half is wasted.

I could go on and on. Let me make this Jack Nicholson crystal clear: (more…)

Going Out of Business


A lot of “wailing and gnashing of teeth” going on in our sector right now. We hear about a lot of ‘not-for-profits’ worried about all the budget cuts, drops in giving, etc. We have both heard directly and read the “Please help us survive, we won’t make it, we will have to close our doors” lament.

Some (many) of these organizations probably should go out of business. They are duplicative of hundreds of other organizations, a lot of times in the same geographical area. They are poorly run. They have relatively little IMPACT.

In the real world, this happens all the time. Nick always uses the term ‘correction‘. This is a naturally occurring event in the world. Organizations, companies, people come and go.

I just heard a story about three ‘ARTS’ companies in Ireland being told that they will no longer be individually supported… but that they had to combine their programs and resources into one large NATIONAL organization… which has the potential to be in the BITW (Best in the World) category. Personally, I think this makes great sense.

P.S. Positive Note. ‘Going out of business’ can also mean reinventing yourself. You can literally go out of business today and reopen tomorrow as a different kind of organization. (Can you say ‘General Motors’? I’m an Atlas Shrugged guy. An entrepreneur. Don’t like government involvement in anything. However, you’ve got to love the fact that General Motors ‘re-invented’ itself by forming two entities… one with all the good stuff and one with all the bad toxic stuff… and then dumped the bad one.)

The Economy: One Great Question


‘C-M’ is absolutely one of my favorite Relationship Managers, Sales-Superstar and just all around Wonder-Woman. She is part of one of the best Sales Teams in the Third Sector/For Impact World.

After getting “beat up, challenged and sob-storied” about the Economy on so many visits… she decided to turn things around by asking ONE GREAT QUESTION:

“WHAT IF THINGS WERE DIFFERENT?”

WOW! According to C-M and her teammates, this ONE GREAT QUESTION completely changes the DIALOGUE and CONVERSATION!

It immediately allows people to RE-FRAME their thinking around the FUTURE… instead of bemoaning the Dow or their 401(k) or the housing market.

I think this is also a terrific lead-in to talking about LEGACY GIFTS, MULTI-YEAR COMMITMENTS BASED (on future ability to invest), PRESIDENT’S CIRCLE, etc.

I beg, urge and encourage you to try this ONE BIG QUESTION when somebody starts talking about the “economy, the recession, the bailout, the deficit, etc.”

P.S. This assumes that you’re actually still out there making VISITS and PRESENTATIONS and ASKS.

If you’re not, C-M’s ONE GREAT QUESTION is merely a worthless nugget.

Remainder Ideas on the Nonprofit Market


These are ‘half-thoughts’ I’ve been toting around in my head. I’m hoping others will comment/challenge… or use.

  • Colleges and Universities have been in something of an arms race and increased tuition at 6% – 7% annually.
    • Hard to maintain that pace forever unless what we’re seeing is a change to a completely different model.
    • I think funding model is changing (or has changed) from ‘work hard to pay your way through school’ to student loans/financing to a philanthropy model (those that went before are paying the way now) and on it’s way to a venture funding model (schools will end up with all the wealth and fund more businesses – generating income which will fund ‘tuition’).
    • Amazed we’re not seeing MORE start-up colleges. Perfect time – education changing and incredible demand.
  • I’ve read that some 100K nonprofits will close their doors during this recession. I’m okay with that – while there will be some stories of orgs failing that shouldn’t the marketplace has needed a correction. Too many orgs trying to do the same thing. I’m not a big fan of the WAY collaboration is being talked about right now (sounds too much like a fad) but I’m a huge fan of it as a fundamental – in any economy.
  • On social media: Someone asked me how I’ve see facebook and twitter change fundraising. To be completely honest – I think there is a ton of noise around the subject. In my thinking though these are VEHICLES. Like the telephone and/or the checkbook. One is communication and one is a mode of payment. I just think online giving is a vehicle. Play madlibs and substitute telephone for ‘twitter’ and ‘paper checks’ for online giving and you’ll see my point.

    To be clear, this is new and exciting stuff! In the same way the telephone or email changed communication so too are things like twitter (which, I do love and of which I’m a huge evangelist – for other reasons). And, while the broad world has not fully adopted twitter or facebook I don’t think the amount of noise should be an indication of funding potential. It doesn’t change the fundamentals of FUNDING/REVENUE – relationships, message, model, math, visits/sales-approach.

  • “Capital Campaigns” could change forever. This could be cool. In many markets we’re seeing ‘capital campaign pitches’ dry up. Some funders are saying ‘we have a really hard time funding buildings right now’ (for a variety of reasons). Orgs will adapt – but so will funders. We’ve been talking about this for a while – the future lies in funding the vision – with partners – vs. trying to get others to fund a building (old capital campaign pitch).
  • Stimulus Money – I marvel at what this will do to the marketplace. Still don’t know. What I do know is A LOT of money has to be spent in a very short time and no one is really sure how that’s going to happen or who’s going to get it.

    Is your org applying for stimulus money? If so, email me (nfellers@forimpact.org). I’m doing a little survey of orgs in this boat… going to aggregate info and share with respondents.

Not-for-profits: Do-gooders always looking for money


At a speech last week I did some word-association drills with a room full of nonprofit leaders, board members, funders and development officers.

First up: ‘Not-for-profit’

Word Associations: Do-gooders, charity, ‘looking for handouts’, untrustworthy, poor business, well-meaning, ‘always wanting money’.

Mind you, I was with a room full of people that classified themselves as nonprofit professionals. Someone in THAT room said ‘untrustworthy’… wow. I wasn’t looking for that one… but okay…

Obviously we’re big on words and framing – hence ‘For Impact’. This was the first time I let a room do an open-word-association on ‘not-for-profit’. I was hoping to make the point that you need a better message than, “We’re a not-for-profit.” I was hoping to illustrate that funders are largely unresponsive when they hear about untrustworthy, poor-business-running, do-gooders, always wanting money. I think that point was evident as was one more point – a new message is equally (if not more) important to those IN the third sector.

Something to think about – Be For Impact. Be about Saving Lives, Changing Lives and Impacting Lives. Be about a really cool business that’s transforming the community. Be about a movement that inspires the best and brightest to get on board.

Step 2: Survive Long Enough to Get Lucky


(This was taken from an article in Ode magazine and excerpt from Mission, Inc.: The Practitioner’s Guide to Social Enterprise by Kevin Lynch and Julius Walls Jr.)

“The job of the social entrepreneur is to make sure your enterprise lives to fight another day. Do this enough days in a row, with the power of your social purpose and your commitment to changing the world and your break will come.”

Here’s a terrific thought that should help every (SOCIAL) entrepreneur: “If you take seriously the survive to get lucky mantra, then you shouldn’t presume for a moment that the (social) enterprise you are starting or running today will resemble in any way the one that is going to be creating social change five or ten years from now.”

I have seen that hundreds of times. I’ve seen it with the incredible success story of the three Notre Dame entrepreneurs (who happen to be ‘social’) with their company Better World Books. I’m watching it every week with Ben, Brian and GlobeFunder, Inc. I see it in Chris at Solutions for Change, Dan and Felicia with their Montessori School and even the social enterprise of all social enterprises, Goodwill.

The authors say to remember that you’re dealing with two variables: the needs of the world you’re seeking to change and the dynamics of the industry in which your enterprise is competing.

SURVIVE LONG ENOUGH TO GET LUCKY.

Social Entrepreneurs: A Pleonasm


I love skimming an eclectic mix of magazines for relevant FOR IMPACT thinking. I particularly love Letters from the Editor.

This month’s (March 2009) ODE Magazine (Tagline: For Intelligent Optimists) has a particularly compelling insight from Jurriaan Kamp. Kamp’s title is APPLES & ENTREPRENEURS.

What do the terms “ORGANIC APPLES” and “SOCIAL ENTREPRENEURS” have in common?

Kamp says both are pleonasms. (I had to look it up. It means unnecessary repetition.)

“What’s an apple that grows without chemicals? It’s just an apple. If any kind of apple needs a modifier, it’s that kind that isn’t grown organically. Those we should call ‘chemical apples’.”

He echoes Peters, Collins, Drucker, Suddes and Fellers with this great line: “LANGUAGE IS IMPORTANT.” (See CHANGE YOUR VOCABULARY for more on this.)

He says the current definition of ‘SOCIAL ENTREPRENEURS’ is primarily concerned with the CONTRIBUTION (product or service) they make to SOCIETY.

Kamp’s huge point, and very well taken, is that ALL entrepreneurs are really SOCIAL ENTREPRENEURS. As he says, “What other reason could there be to start an enterprise other than to make a useful contribution to society?”

“Doing good shouldn’t be a special ‘enlightened business’ category. Shouldn’t we always try to do good? Shouldn’t we always strive to make things work for people around us?”

“After all, that is – to honor Adam Smith – in our best self-interest, since nothing is more fulfilling than knowing we’re making a positive difference in someone’s life.”

From Kamp (and Suddes):

Entrepreneurs should be entrepreneurs. And apples should be apples.

P.S. I’ve taken the liberty of attaching the entire letter. It’s that good. There is also a solid contribution to this whole SOCIAL ENTREPRENEUR conversation and a great article on Page 36, NEVER LET A CRISIS GO TO WASTE.