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Creating Great Funding Rationales

A few weeks ago we published “10 Action Steps to Help you Engage in 2016.” Over the next 10 weeks, we are going to use each action step as a week long theme to help you get it done!

This week’s theme is BUILD YOUR FUNDING RATIONALE.

In this video we cover the ‘Last 3 Feet’ tied to Creating Great Funding Rationales (hint: “Unrestricted” does not make a great Funding Rationale!)

  • Create a Funding Rationale tied to a Unit of Impact if possible – “Our goal is to underwrite all 3000 of our families each year at $1500 per family. How many families can you help support?”
  • Package up your Programs – “Here is the Impact we’d like to have in each community and it will take about $100,000 per community to make it happen.”
  • Use a Leadership Circle membership goal as it relates to the Opportunity to Save, Change and Impact Lives – “When we have 50 members in our Leadership Society (@$10,000+ per year) it allows us to innovate new programs and provide core support to existing impact. It also allows us to move quickly when needed – To save and change more lives.”

Previous video in this sequence: Using Altitude to develop your Presentation.

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10 Types of Funding Rationales

A few weeks ago we published “10 Action Steps to Help you Engage in 2016.” Over the next 10 weeks, we are going to use each action step as a week long theme to help you get it done!

This week’s theme is BUILD YOUR FUNDING RATIONALE.

Here is a list of some of the framing devices we often use to create Funding Rationales. (i.e., you need these numbers to rationalize the ASK!)

In an abridged form:

  • The Gap: Using a gap number to justify the ASK.
    Tuition: Tuition is $6K, cost per student is $8K. Gap is $2K. Could ask someone to underwrite THE GAP for five students.

    Project: Receive federal grants to the tune of $45K/year for $60K/year program. Ask someone to fund the gap for three years = $15K/year or $45K ASK.

  • The Widget: Break down projects/programs/model into a cost per person or cost per unit. Package this as the ASK. Typically, I use the widget to create the simplest and strongest sell.
    “One child for one year.”

    See also: See Chipotle vs. Max and Erma’s

  • Funding the Prototype: This is a different way of funding your annual operating budget for a start-up. Communicate how your model works and what is needed to make the model happen – then run a funding pyramid.

    Example: This year we need $1.1M to build the prototype.

    Going to need:

    1 @ $200K
    2 @ $100K
    3 @ $75K
    4 @ $50K
    6 @ $25K
    10 @ $10K
  • Funding the Vision: Think of this as funding the model/prototype and future projects/priorities for the next 3-5 years. If you will, this is ‘the campaign pitch’ but with a more holistic view of ALL funding priorities. Within Funding the Vision:

    Leadership Commitments: Top tiered commitments that validate the funding plan.

    Momentum Commitments: TIMELY gifts. Could be Leadership or not… but means so much because of the timing. Provides a lot of leverage, energy, etc.

  • TRANSFORMATION: Justifies all caps on that one. Sometimes it’s simply about a number that would completely TRANSFORM our organization, the investor, etc. This is a rationale that extends far beyond a ‘campaign lead’.
  • Project Sponsorship: “Can you underwrite the medical program for three years @ $30K/year?”

    Note: If it were me… get rid of the notion of asking people to fund ‘operating’ or ‘infrastructure’. Literally everything you do can be packaged as a project, priority or program.

  • Angel Investment: “We’re going to need 10 investors at X to get this idea off the ground. We’re taking something of an angel-investment approach. Can you be one of these angels?” – Very much about timing, the level, the funder, etc.
  • Strategic Partner: Often a corporation or foundation that provides ongoing, high-level funding support on an ongoing basis. It’s a great relationship because you [the org] are a means of delivering on the funder’s priorities in the community or sector.
  • Protection: This is a rationale or way of asking someone to ‘protect’ and annual investment with a planned gift/legacy gift. More on that here.
  • Leverage: We need to raise X to generate 10X.

    Note: Yesterday I was on the phone with an organization that needs to raise $5M to generate $1Billion. To make my point. They need to raise $5M to generate $1,000,000,000,000.

    Obviously, you don’t need all of these. I’m hoping the brief descriptions can spark some answers to common questions like:

    “What do we ask for?”

    “How do we package our operating to justify a big ask?”

    “How do we rationalize the number?”

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How to Create a Funding Rationale Tied to Impact

A few weeks ago we published “10 Action Steps to Help you Engage in 2016.” Over the next 10 weeks, we are going to use each action step as a week long theme to help you get it done!

This week’s theme is BUILD YOUR FUNDING RATIONALE.

Essentially there are three ways to create a funding rationale – the three P’s. You can ask someone to invest in:

A PERSON

It would be more accurate to refer to this final rationale as a ‘unit’ but then I would lose alliteration. You can do the math to figure out the cost to impact one student, one class, one session, one exhibit, one visitor, etc. This could be a total cost or a ‘gap cost.’

A PROGRAM

This could include seed funds to launch a program, sponsorship for a program or gap funding for a program. The cost of the program is set against the impact of the program – You’re selling the impact of the program.

A PLAN

Commonly used with the ‘campaign mindset.’ Cast your vision, attach a dollar amount, articulate a funding plan then ask someone to be a piece of the plan.

You can use one, two or all three – but you must HAVE a simple funding rationale:

“Could you sponsor a classroom? (or 5?)”

“Could you underwrite the program this year and next?”

“Could we ask you to take the lead on this plan?”

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The Only Presentation Tool You Need

A few weeks ago we published “10 Action Steps to Help you Engage in 2016.” Over the next 10
weeks, we are going to use each action step as a week long theme to help you get it done!

This week’s theme is SIMPLIFY YOUR MESSAGE.

Simplify your message so that it fits on a napkin.

It’s not easy. However, I believe that your ability to engage someone with your why, what and how is proportional to how clearly and cleanly you can communicate your message.

This is a really big deal!

When sitting down with someone new they should ‘get it’ in a matter of seconds. Too often we overwhelm people with power points, three-ring binders and slick brochures. I’ve made many ‘million dollar calls’ using ONLY a napkin. I believe it is the BEST and ONLY presentation tool you need.

At the thousands of training and speaking engagements I’ve done, I can spend three straight hours talking, listening, and responding to our Controlling Insight, on a napkin:

Every day, every training, every coaching just reinforces the power of this insight.

*Since I’ve presented this 1,000 times, give or take, and still get ‘juiced’ at the simplicity of this message – doesn’t hurt for you to see it again (and again, and forever, again.)

Just for kicks, see if you can identify these industry changing businesses from the napkins below. Or email with your own napkin – We’re happy to respond, add thoughts, etc.

 

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8 Common Messaging Challenges

A few weeks ago we published “10 Action Steps to Help you Engage in 2016.” Over the next 10
weeks, we are going to use each action step as a week long theme to help you get it done!


This week’s theme is SIMPLIFY YOUR MESSAGE.

Some quick reminders and primers coming into this post:

  • Message is what is HEARD, not necessarily what you SAY. (Read: What’s in a Message?)
  • A potential funder needs to be engaged around the message at three levels – the WHY, the WHERE (money goes) and the HOW (can help – supported by a funding rationale). Read our Altitude Framework PDF for a comprehensive look at this.

Here are eight common messaging challenges we see:

  • The message (engagement) starts at the wrong altitude. Engagement begins at 30,000’ – about changing, saving and impacting lives. A quick assessment of the way most ED’s are talking about the organization and you see that it’s so programmatic (think: 14,000’). We do a lot of coaching to get people up to the 30,000’-changing-the-world-level.
  • No simplicity. Not able to state 30,000’ on a napkin. Not able to communicate three priorities. Not able to articulate a simple funding rationale.

    Special note: One way to simplify your message is through the use of visuals!

  • No engagement. Several times each month I look at an organization’s message and say, “That’s actually pretty damn good! I’ll bet you’re just not ENGAGING anyone with the message.” What I mean is, you don’t need to wordsmith or reframe anything. Instead, you have a message problem in that no one is actually HEARING and INTERNALIZING the message. This could be because we’re not out visiting with or it could be because we’re out talking and not LISTENING. Listening allows us to frame our message in a way that makes sense to the other person.
  • No funding rationale. No math or no story to support ‘the ask’. This is identifiable when we have a funding goal only and we’re either saying, “Can you give?” or we’re just picking a number out of the air. See my earlier post on 9 Types of Funding Pitches.
  • No WOW. Only commentary here is that most organizations DO have a WOW factor. They often don’t see it because they focus on what’s not perfect.
  • Story is not awesome. By this I mean your 30,000’ narrative is not representing your transcendent purpose, your BHAG, your audacity.
  • Framing is about the INCOME. Not the IMPACT. A common 14,000’ example. Whereas we should be communicating how ALL of our funding supports specific projects, priorities and programs we say something like, “We need funds for staff salaries… admin… overhead.” YUCK. You frame everything around your excel spreadsheet and not the PURPOSE or INTENT of the expenditure. Again: Yuck. Another example is the message that’s all about the business plan. WHY do you exist and WHAT do you hope to achieve with said business plan (around the IMPACT).
  • All CAUSE, no CASE. (Or, All PROBLEM, No SOLUTION.) This refers to a message that is heavy on selling me on the problem. So much so that I never really engage with the CASE – either because it’s not there, or because you’ve lost my attention. Note: Hitting all three altitude levels actually makes a simple and complete CASE FOR SUPPORT.
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Use the Rule of 3 to Simplify Your Priorities at 14,000’

A few weeks ago we published “10 Action Steps to Help you Engage in 2016.” Over the next 10 weeks, we are going to use each action step as a week long theme to help you get it done!

This week’s theme is SIMPLIFY YOUR MESSAGE.

Our most used frameworks is the Altitude Framework – Used to order thinking, communications, and storylines; to develop Engagement Tools; and, to think through the Flow of a Visit.

This framework is used for everything from visits to strategy sessions to dealing with objections. However, it’s best use is COMMUNICATION and SIMPLIFICATION of your message.

14,000’ is the view and perspective from the ‘top of the mountain.’ (In the Rockies, they’re called ‘fourteeners.’) At this altitude, the air is thinner and the raptors soar. If 30,000’ is about vision, 14,000’ is about focus. A place to talk about Business Models and Strategy, but most importantly, a place to finding clarity around Priorities.

One of our favorite devices for simplifying your message at 14,000’ is The Rule of 3.

The Rule of 3 is a magical rule for SIMPLICITY.

As human beings, we’re wired to understand, internalize, and remember threes. Politicians know this, as does the media. Neuroscience tells us that the brain actually finds harmony in threes.

One is lonely (no choice.)

Two creates an either/or conflict. (Sophie’s Choice, anyone?)

Not only is Three just right (thank you, Goldilocks) but anything more than three is too complex!

Barry Schwartz’s The Paradox of Choice: Why More is Less tells us stories of engagement DECREASING proportionate to MORE choice.

Look around:

Three-Act Plays. The first act sets up the story, the second act creates conflict, and the third act is the resolution.

The Holy Trinity.

Pyramids. An ancient symbol for strength.

Think BIG! Build SIMPLE! Act NOW! (Can you feel the cadence?!?!)

Today. Tomorrow. Forever.

You can use the Rule of 3 to communicate your biggest Priorities at 14,000’. For example, if you have 7 programs, you need to package those into 3 priorities, such as:

People, Programs, Places
Research, Education, Service
Meals, Homes, Health & Wellness Programs
Read-Aloud Programs, Family Literacy, Teen Intervention

Action: Take the time to write out everything you do on one or two sheets of paper. Then use the attached trigger list to simplify your programs and funding needs into 3 Priorities.

And next time you’re with a prospect you can say, “Over the next 1,000 days we’re focused on these 3 Priorities, which one are you most interested in?”

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Start With The Why

A few weeks ago we published “10 Action Steps to Help you Engage in 2016.” Over the next 10 weeks, we are going to use each action step as a week long theme to help you get it done! This week’s theme is SIMPLIFY YOUR MESSAGE.

Start with the Why is our number one For Impact Guiding Principle.

I came across a brilliant thinker, Simon Sinek, who has a great book, Start With Why, a powerful Ted Video, and an amazing story around the power of ‘WHY.’

The essence of his message:

People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.

He calls it the ‘Golden Circle’.

Mediocre organizations and leaders always sell ‘outside-in’: talking about WHAT, then HOW (features, benefits), and never even getting to the WHY.

Great leaders sell ‘inside-out’ – leading with the WHY.

Sinek’s Golden Circle is our ALTITUDE FRAMEWORK… with research!

Starting with Why has many implications in our For Impact world; here’s a few:

A vocabulary challenge to the sector. What prospects hear (often times) is “We need money to meet our annual funding goal” or “Buy a table at our gala.” These messages have no WHY, but what your prospects want to do is save, change and impact lives.

Selling happens at 30,000’. The number one question of every investor is, “Why do you exist?” If the person you are talking to doesn’t care about your WHY, it’s very hard to talk to her about the what and the how. Conversely, if your WHY is his number one priority, you can ask on the proverbial ‘first date.’

There are 1.5M nonprofits in the U.S. You must be able to talk about your raison d’etre (reason for existence); otherwise, you just ‘exist to exist.’

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Start the New Year on a “HIGH”

A few weeks ago we published “10 Action Steps to Help you Engage in 2016.” Over the next 10 weeks, we are going to use each action step as a week long theme to help you get it done!

This week’s theme is SIMPLIFY YOUR MESSAGE.

Our most used frameworks is the Altitude Framework – Used to order thinking, communications, and storylines; to develop Engagement Tools; and, to think through the Flow of a Visit.

This framework is used for everything from visits to strategy sessions to dealing with objections. However, it’s best use is COMMUNICATION and SIMPLIFICATION of your message.

30,000′ is an airplane’s cruising altitude – plenty of blue sky, a great view, etc. At 30,000′, our brain even seems to work better!

At this altitude, it’s all about your vision, your aspirations, your raison d’etre. It’s a place to think and talk about your mission, your meaning, your values.

At 30,000’ leaders and visionaries have the ability to see the horizon. Obviously, you can’t do that from 3’. At 30,000’ you can see the curve of the earth, the rising and setting of the sun. The perspective at 30,000’ is unmatched. This is where you can think about making a “dent in the universe” and communicate how you are CHANGING THE WORLD!

Use this framing device to think and answer some questions at 30,000’:

  • Why do you what you do – To what end?
  • What is your raison d’etre (or reason for existence?)
  • What are you best in the world at?
  • What would you do with $1M or $10M (or X times your current operating budget?)
  • What makes you unique or how are you collaborating to solve a big social problem?
  • What gets you really fired up in the morning? (About your impact!)

Use the answers to these questions to develop your Message at 30,000’ – Your big picture purpose statement, the meaning of your work – Something we call the Blue Box Message.

“The Blue Box”:

  • Represents the starting point for everything
  • Frames a conversation at the highest level
  • Is simple (not full of fancy prose)
  • Is articulated clearly, concisely and compellingly

Here are some examples of great Blue Box Messages:

Changing the lives of the visually impaired worldwide.

Transforming the aging experience.

To provide the finest liberal arts education in the country.

Breaking the circle of poverty by changing the system.

Transforming Columbus: Inspiring the entrepreneurs of the future.

Strong Healthy Kids, Strong Healthy Families, Strong Healthy Communities.

We provide the opportunity for disadvantaged women and children to transform their lives.

We want safe water for EVERYONE FOREVER.

To make reading matter and change the story for low-income students and families in San Diego County.

Redefine Interprofessional Education. Redefine Healthcare Delivery. For Better Patient Health Outcomes.

Join us tomorrow for more on Simplifying your Message.

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Affirmation

“The single most important lesson I learned in 25 years, talking every single day to people, was that there’s a common denominator in our human experience:

We want to be validated. We want to be understood.

They all want to know: “Did you hear me? Did you see me?
Did what I said mean anything to you?’”

– Oprah Winfrey

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NCIS. Gibbs Rule 28: ASK

Leroy Jethro Gibbs of NCIS fame* has Rules. Here’s the one he used with Bishop.

“Rule 28: When you need help, ASK.”

Add this one to some of my favorite quotes about Asking:

“Ask and it shall be given.
Seek and you shall find.
Knock and it shall be opened to you.”

– The Bible

“If you don’t ASK, you don’t get.”
– Ghandi

“Just ASK.”
– Suddes

*Your pop culture reference for the day.

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2016 Boot Camp Dates: San Diego and Colorado Registration Open!

Our first dates for 2016 Boot Camps are available! Join us on March 1-2 in San Diego and May 17-18 in Larkspur, CO (just outside of Denver.)

The For Impact Boot Camp is focused on frameworks and skill building – You will leave with the knowledge you need to simplify your message and funding rationale, and take your organization to the next level.

This high-energy, day-and-a-half session covers topics like:

  • How to execute against a sales process (for major gifts, campaign gifts, transformational gifts, etc.)
  • How to build and maximize relationships
  • How to build and lead an effective team
  • How to ask, close, and follow-up

The Boot Camp is perfect for organizational alums, new hires, or anyone looking to hone individual skills – both personal and professional!

Early bird pricing is available for both sessions. Discounts are also available for Alumni Organizations and teams with 4 or more participants.

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