Latest Posts

The For Impact Board’s Funding Responsibility

The For Impact Board’s Funding Responsibility

The RESPONSIBILITIES of a Board Member should be driven by a desire to help IMPACT, Change the World, solve a social problem, etc.

It is not as a place to ‘SIT’! (i.e. A ‘SEAT ON the Board???) We don’t want them to ‘SIT’. We want them to ACT!

WHAT IF… you could go to your Board (or recruit new talent to your Board) and talk about 3 specific things you need from them:

  • THINK…
    and GROW RICH
  • FOCUS…
    This is from Napoleon Hill’s powerful book Think & Grow Rich. The ‘RICH’ in both the book, the title and the responsibility really has nothing to do with ‘money’… but it has everything to do with IMPACT! When people commit to be on Board, they need to commit to THINK! (Again, not ‘sit’.) Use words like solutions, ideas, innovation to
    get them THINKING.ASK (Beg?) them not to check their ‘brain’ at the door…“because it’s a Not-For-Profit”!
    Getting Board Members and community leaders to truly FOCUS on particular CHALLENGES (PROBLEMS) and look for INNOVATIVE SOLUTIONS is a wonderful use of a CHAMPION’S/LEADER’S time.Review ALTITUDE framework… and then USE IT!!!
    STOP ‘INFORMING’ and start ‘INVOLVING’! Asking community leaders and Board Members to actually help in an area in which they have INTEREST and EXPERIENCE and EXPERTISE will have amazing results!*A really good CHAMPION or BOARD MEMBER should be there for you to provide ‘COUNSEL’. Think of them as your FOR IMPACT ‘CONSIGLIERE’.
The For Impact Board’s Funding Role

The For Impact Board’s Funding Role

Every single Board that we have worked with, without exception, has a very fuzzy and ill-defined ROLE for their Board vis-à-vis INCOME.

*One of the very best Executive Directors I’ve ever worked with actually told me that her Board’s ‘funding strategy’ was to buy LOTTERY TICKETS! It would be funny, if it wasn’t so sad.

Here’s what we believe the ROLE of the Board should be in an [IMPACT -> INCOME] CULTURE:

    the CAUSE and the CASE.
    others to get INVOLVED and ENGAGED.
    (to help FUND THE VISION)

* Specific Board Members are a critical part of your SALES TEAM! They can help get the visit, predispose before the visit, possibly join you on the visit, and definitely help follow-up after the visit.

Following are some thoughts to help you and your Board better understand these 3 big words.

  • CHAMPION. The power of this word is that everyone can and should know what it means to CHAMPION your organization, your Cause and your Case.* When you present these 3 roles to your Board, if there are any Board Members who are reluctant to CHAMPION your organization, they need to be removed immediately. (Call security and have them escorted from the building. )
  • INVITE. Your Board Members and Champions need the opportunity to INVITE OTHERS to become INVOLVED and ENGAGED in your organization and Cause and Case.Just imagine if you went to your Board and said, “We do not want you asking people for money! We need you to INVITE a Qualified Prospect to a TOUR or a MEMORABLE EXPERIENCE .”This is 100 times better than asking them for ‘names’!*One of the best ways we’ve found to execute on this role is with specific ‘membership’ opportunities. Let them INVITE prospects to join the President’s Circle or a Legacy Society. Then they get ‘MEMBERS’… not MONEY!
  • INVEST. The ‘COMMENSURATE’ word changes everything! Every single Board Member/Champion should make an INVESTMENT (in time, energy and money) that is COMMENSURATE with their Relationship… Capacity…and Involvement with your organization.


‘INVEST’ has nothing to do with Board Members ‘giving or getting $10,000’. Nothing to do with ‘time, treasure and talents’ from the 1950’s.

A $250 gift from one Board Member could be both commensurate and sacrificial. A $1 Million gift from another Board Member could be neither commensurate or anywhere near a sacrifice.

This COMMENSURATE strategy allows you to take a Board Member who is a $10,000 (commensurate) investor on a visit to Present the Opportunity to a $1 Million investor.

* We realize (from a lot of comments and feedback from our For Impact audience)
that a lot of Board Members were told very specifically that they did not have to
give money to be on the Board. We still strongly believe that you should have
this discussion with your Board around their ROLE, including the ‘INVEST with a

Why? Because it’s all about the IMPACT.

If they believe (CHAMPION), they should both INVITE and INVEST.

*The following is a direct quote from a ‘FEASIBILITY STUDY’ conducted by a very old and well respected ‘consulting firm’.“The Board must feel charged with the BURDEN (our caps) of the fundraising campaign‘s success.”

“Trustees are expected to give SACRIFICIALLY.” (Again, our caps.)

“BURDEN.” “SACRIFICE.” Is it no wonder that your Board Members are not very enthusiastically and passionately engaged in your fundraising and your campaigns?

Your Board is Not Responsible for Fundraising

Your Board is Not Responsible for Fundraising

There it is. It’s out there. Get over it.

There is no such thing as a ‘FUNDRAISING BOARD’!

STOP whining that the Board “Doesn’t understand that they need to raise money”.

STOP complaining that the “Board won’t give or get”.

STOP moaning about “Asking the Board for names… and getting no response”. (As Nick always says, “How’s that working for you?”)

Face the brutal facts:

  • The Board doesn’t want to ‘fundraise’. Actually, the Board hates to ‘fundraise’!
  • The Board doesn’t want to ASK THEIR FRIENDS FOR MONEY!! Actually, they would rather crawl through that broken glass…
  • They spend (collectively) thousands of hours on a SPECIAL EVENT (that is not SPECIAL and not an EVENT) and raise $1,600…because that’s what you trained them to do.

If you keep doing what you are doing, it just leads to:

  • FRUSTRATION (for Staff and Board).
  • STRESS (for Staff and Board).
  • UNHAPPINESS (for Staff and Board).

*At almost every single training we’ve done, which has included a lot of Board Members,
as well as staff, someone comes up at the break and says,

“Finally. Somebody is telling like it is.”
Change the Vocabulary

Change the Vocabulary

Here’s one great way to dramatically impact your Board’s productivity and effectiveness:


Right now you are using a lot of ‘words’ that support the whole ‘not-for-profit, charity, woe-is-us’ thing. You are also using a lot of ‘industry jargon’ that mystifies and confuses most business and community leaders.

Many of our For Impact Organizations have left a Training Camp or a Live Experience or a Custom Training and gone back to their Boards and shared just this CHANGE IN VOCABULARY! (A few have even put the words up on big posters in their Board Room to really make the point.)

* Note: Here’s powerful incentive to help you understand what this change could mean to your Board Members.

A very successful entrepreneur and businessman in Ireland said to the Senior Staff, “Why didn’t you just say this was SALES in the beginning? I hate fundraising. I understandand love SALES.”

One small example.

Give Us Passionate Advocates

Give Us Passionate Advocates


In preparing to facilitate and lead a Board Xperience (Annual ‘Retreat’. at Disney World.) for an absolutely amazing group of business and community leaders, I was going over the goals for the day. The President, an experienced and extremely talented For Impact leader, said it this way,

“It is very simple. I’m looking to have the members of my Board be PASSIONATE ADVOCATES for what we do.”

If you think about these three BIG WORDS: CHAMPIONS, PASSIONATE, ADVOCATES…

It certainly creates the ‘PERFECT PROFILE’ of a committed, (on) Board Member.

Give Us Champions

Give Us Champions

You should be looking for CHAMPIONS, not just ‘BOARD MEMBERS’!

STUFF’ gets done by CHAMPIONS… by people who believe in your Mission, Message, Vision.

CHAMPIONS are involved with you because of your IMPACT! (They are NOT there because they want to be ‘fundraisers’.)

Success with your Board is more about RELATIONSHIPS with INDIVIDUAL MEMBERS… not the Board as a whole!

Stay focused on these CHAMPIONS! They will lead you to the proverbial ‘Promised Land’.

*For us, it’s really simple:

CHAMPIONS will exponentially outperform any ‘COLLECTIVE BOARD’ by 10x to 100x.


Special Note: The Power of One. John W. Gardner wrote a pretty powerful quote that might encourage you to focus on three CHAMPIONS, rather than worrying about your entire Board. (He uses the term ‘MAN’. Obviously, this would be WO-MAN as well.)
“The cynic says one (wo)man can’t do anything.
I say ‘Only one (wo)man can do anything’.”

“All good ideas start with one (wo)man.”

“The creative, caring, believing person sends out waves of influence.”

“(S)He affects others who in turn affect others.”

No More Boards – A New Model

No More Boards – A New Model

My coaching style is positive, pat on the back, supportive, you can do it… like John Wooden, Phil Jackson, Lou Holtz, Mike Brey, and Pete Carroll.

Although rare, there are times when I feel like going off on a Tom Peters-like rant in order to grab people’s attention, especially in this age of 3 million marketing messages a day, YouTube, Lady Gaga and Reality TV.

No More Boards is a quick shift from my normal style, but might challenge you even more to re-think this whole ‘BOARD THING’.

This is not ‘disrespecting’ Board Members. Individually, these members are, for the most part, national or community leaders committed to your cause.

It’s the idea of the Board as an entity, a collective ‘mob’, if you will, that I struggle with.

WHAT IF… there were literally no more ‘BOARDS’?



Here is one scenario…

  • ‘EXECUTIVE BOARD’ (GROUP). A five-member group (since it needs to be an odd number) responsible only for fiduciary matters and for meeting governmental regulations, etc. They would be smart. Have sector expertise in law, accounting and business. Not ‘yes men’, but collaborative men and women who
    understood their role and responsibility for the organization.
  • ‘MASTERMIND’ ALLIANCE. Right out of Napoleon Hill’s Think & Grow Rich. Again, this would be a group of really smart and talented individuals who would get together to explore the absolute best way to have the highest level of IMPACT. It would be kind of a 3rd Sector, mini-version of the YPO (Young President’s Organization) or EO (Entrepreneur Organization). Would include other respected 3rd Sector leaders, entrepreneurs and big-time community leaders.
  • ADVISORY COUNCIL or AMBASSADORS. This group would be made up of only CHAMPIONS and PASSIONATE ADVOCATES. The size would be limited only by the criteria! (Again, Champions or Passionate Advocates). No ‘meetings’. Selected ‘gatherings’ of like-kind ‘C.P.A.’s. (Not accountants! Champions and Passionate Advocates.)

In this 3-Part Model, the only ‘Board Meeting’ would be with the Executive Group to insure compliance and maybe some risk management. The Mastermind Alliance Group would get together at least monthly to do some serious brainstorming and benchmarking. (Think of this as your SUPPORT GROUP… a kind of ‘Kitchen Cabinet.’)

The Advisory Group of Ambassadors/Champions would get together quarterly to talk about the Vision, Mission and Purpose at 30,000’… and the CHALLENGES that needed to be met to reach these goals. Not sure when the whole idea of a ‘Board’ within the nonprofit world was even first created, but it’s time (NOW) to CHANGE!

Again, WHAT IF… you could start fresh??? How would you Re-Think and Re-Design and Re-Focus on Boards and on Leadership and on Champions?

On ‘The’ Board vs. On Board

On ‘The’ Board vs. On Board

Drop the preposition (THE)… and it changes everything!

ON BOARD is about alignment with your Vision, Mission, Message… your Purpose, Priorities and Plan.

On ‘THE’ Board means simply filling a spot, holding a position, taking space on your stationery.

“The bottleneck is at the TOP of the bottle.”
- Anonymous Executive Director

There is a big part of us that simply wants to challenge the entire idea of the ‘COLLECTIVE BOARD’. Very little ever gets done by the ‘COLLECTIVE BOARD’.

Most ‘NONPROFIT’ BOARDS, in the collective sense, end up listening to Committee Reports and rubber stamping financial gobblygook.

Here’s why:

  • ‘COLLECTIVE BOARDS’ are all about being ‘SAFE’… vs. SCALING and GROWING your IMPACT.

Here are three other reasons why I believe nonprofit ‘Collective Boards’ are ineffective:

  • They protect ‘Sacred Cows’.“We’ve always done it this way.” Tom Peters calls these people DSGY’s (Designated Self-Appointed Guardians of Yesterday).
  • They Self-Perpetuate. Like-kind people nominating and finding like-kind people… who continue to provide no real leadership.
  • They Lack Entrepreneurial Attitude. No entrepreneur worth their calling would spend time on a ‘wishy-washy, play it safe, don’t make waves’ Board.

A Very Personal Note: Many Boards are made up of a politically crude acronym: BOWG, (Big Old White Guys). This, to me, is a euphemism for traditional, bureaucratic, corporate, hierarchical thinking, etc.

More Boards need an eclectic, diverse mix of entrepreneurs, business and community leaders and (most importantly) people who are actually PASSIONATE about the Cause and the Case and the organization.

*They also need more WOMEN, but that’s just too big a subject to tackle right here.

“If they are not ON BOARD…
maybe they should go OVERBOARD!”


If they are not ON BOARD…
they are a ‘BORED’ BOARD.”
Change the Story

Change the Story

The best way to begin changing the relationship/engagement with the board is to Change the Story.

The Power of Story is not only a phenomenal book by Jim Loehr, but it is a great maxim to improve the dynamics of your Board relationship.


What is the current ‘STORY’ you’re telling yourself about your Board?

  • They want to micro-manage everything.
  • They won’t give us names.
  • They won’t ask their friends for money.
  • We can’t get new and better Board Members
  • We are stuck with ‘Legacy’ Board Members.
  • We all dread Board Meetings.


This ‘story’ is familiar, but doesn’t have to be true moving forward.


WHAT IF… you change that ‘STORY’ to one that sounded like this:

  • Our Collective Board is engaged with us at 30,000’ around our Vision
  • Our Individual Board Members help us at 14,000’ around our Strategy
  • Our Board truly understands their role when it comes to funding… and they love it.
  • Successful community leaders who believe in our Cause and our Case are fighting to get on our Board.
  • We have had great conversations with our entire Board about the ‘BUS’… where it’s going and who needs to be on it. Those who are not in alignment with our direction have gracefully and gratefully
    accepted either Emeritus status or rotated off the Board.
  • Our Board Meetings are now Memorable Experiences… exciting opportunities to both see and talk about our Impact! We can’t wait for the next one.


You control the Board ‘Story’. It can be a negative story or a positive story. Either way, it will become a self-fulfilling prophecy.



One simple way to gain FOCUS is to look at EVERYTHING you’re doing and decide:

  • What you’re going to continue to DO (relative to the ).
  • What you’re going to DELEGATE. (Somebody has to do it. Just not you.)
  • What you’re going to DUMP. (Not do. Nobody’s going to do it.)

Think about it.


Stop trying to ‘do’ everything! (“I can’t let go.” “I micro-manage.” “Easier to do it myself.”)


For the best example of this concept in action, read Michael Gelb’s INNOVATE LIKE EDISON. (Wonderful book — one of my favorite authors.), In essence, Edison believed his ‘job’ was to THINK and CREATE. He brought on hundreds of super-talented people to help EXECUTE. This book also reinforces that EVERYTHING’S A PROJECT! And, every project has a TEAM, LEADER, etc.


Sounds simple, but always hard to figure out WHAT (to delegate) and to WHOM. What could you DELEGATE immediately that would free you up to ONLY DO WHAT ONLY YOU CAN DO.

I cut this quote out of Success Magazine on July 19, 2012. I think it captures the big idea. It’s from Richard Branson. Chief Virgin.(???) 300 companies. 34 countries. $2.1B in revenue.

“One of the best bits of advice I can give other leaders is to try to put yourself out of business. Try to find people to take over 99% of what you do, which will then free you up to THINK about the bigger picture.”

DELEGATE… 99% of what you do!

Jim Collins uses this same mindset, hiring a bunch of the ‘best and brightest’ to help him research and analyze his concepts.

Small example: 2013 marks the 30th Anniversary of The Suddes Group. In all those years, I can probably count the number of checks I’ve written on one hand. I hate accounting, accounts payable, accounts receivable. I’m no good with money. (It just doesn’t mean that much to me.) So… there’s always been somebody to take care of this.

My company role is to to think and make rain … to generate revenue through IMPACT and VALUE.


I know. Again, way easier said than done.

Stephen Covey created his brilliant ‘Quadrants’ and made Quadrant IV (“Not Important. Not Urgent.”) all about DUMP.

Here’s another way to look at ‘DUMP’:

Create 3 lists:

  • Things I WANT to do.
  • Things I HAVE to do.
  • Things I neither WANT to do nor HAVE to do.

Dump the third list. Throw it away.

No More Meetings

No More Meetings

I’m sick of ‘meetings.’ And I’m at an age where I can ‘just SAY no.’

Political pundit James Carville says,


He goes on to say that, “Absent a major peace negotiation, complicated merger or complex legal settlement, there’s no reason on earth to have a meeting last more 30 MINUTES.”

After 35 years in the ‘business world,’ I never want to attend another meeting in my life. I believe this is also true of every other meeting ‘attendee’ (excluding the ‘meeting planner’ or ‘boss’ who is holding the meeting.)

I wish I had a magic alternative. I’d love to see more ‘GATHERINGS’ of the right people at the right time on the right subject… to brainstorm or reevaluate or correct the course. (Imagine what life would be like without ‘meetings,’ but where you ‘GATHERED’ together in a fun, productive session with real results.)

A meeting, by the way, is not a place to INFORM! If you want to share information, write it down and get it out in a one-pager.

If you’re going to ‘gather’ for actionable results, then people need to be engaged and involved in the session … not listening to one person ramble with no purpose. ocument I’d love to see more opportunities for ‘CELEBRATIONS’ of accomplishments and success (rather than just ‘talking’ about what we’re going to do).

P.S. If you really, really want a PRODUCTIVE session, either STAND or go for a WALK!