Latest Posts

The World’s First Elevator Pitch

We urge you to read Dan Pink’s book, TO SELL IS HUMAN!

Go immediately to Page 155 and read about Elisha Otis and the world’s first elevator pitch!

Teaser: It involved him climbing on top of one of the world’s first elevators and taking an axe and slashing the rope that is suspending it in mid-air!

We love Dan’s thinking as he goes into the 6 Successors to the Elevator Pitch:

  • The One-Word Pitch (IMPACT!)
  • The Question Pitch (JUST ASK!)
  • The Rhyming Pitch (LIVE TO GIVE. GIVE TO LIVE.)
  • The Subject Line Pitch (YOU JUST WON $1M FROM NIGERIAN LOTTERY.)
  • The Pixar Pitch!!! (Page 170. THIS ALONE IS WORTH THE PRICE OF THE BOOK.)

Pink reinforces everything we’ve read about Pixar, John Lasseter and his team, Steve Jobs, Walt Disney Company, and more.


Once upon a time there was _________. Every day _________.
One day ________ and _________. Because of that _________ .
Because of that __________. Until finally _________.


To every For Impact organization out there … fill in the blanks and you have your STORY! document

You know our FI | TSG line: You’re in Sales. Get over IT!


Visit with a Foundation

Nick walks through a visit with a foundation and demonstrates how build Leadership Consensus to validate the plan.

Set Up

Nick meets with a local bank foundation that has a long-time, but unmaximized, relationship with Christian Community Action, an organization that started a campaign but fell short of their goal.





Key Learning Points:

  • Leadership Consensus Building – getting long-time funders on board to validate the plan
  • Ask questions to determine where their priorities lie
  • Get them on board as a champion before the ask, then the ask becomes a natural progression of the relationship
  • Nick used specific language that communicated directly to a bank mindset (strategic partner, emphasis on numbers and plan, ect)
  • Use the tool to draw the prospect into specific parts that they are interested in
  • As a partner, Nick showed that the organization is raising the bar everywhere – that’s why it makes sense for the foundation to raise their bar
  • Sell the plan – let them know that we are a sound investment in the future
  • It’s about making a commitment to having a lasting impact on the community



Key Learning Points:

  • Roadmap: Predisposition, presentation, follow-up
  • Constantly predispose the prospect to the next part of the flow
  • Follow Up with prospects, with your organization, and with yourself
  • Immediate follow-up letter – “here are the key points we talked about, I have captured and confirmed them”
  • Current visit follow-up letter – bullet point format
    • You’ve been one of our best partners, strategic match with our priorities
    • Ending homelessness
    • Strategic partnership
    • Confirm follow-up steps
    • Give a specific time to follow-up
    • Use specific quotes of what they said
  • After action report – how did the message work, what did we learn, what do we need to change? It’s a continual learning process
  • As sales people, keep the ball in your court – control when you are going to get back to them

Visit with a Lapsed Annual Fund Supporter

Tom walks through a visit with a prospect that has previously been engaged with the organization but has been disconnected for a length of time.


The prospect is a wealthy socialite with children who has been previously involved with the organization.






Key Learning Points:

  • 3 ways to help: Champion. Invite. Invest.
  • If someone is not volunteering the information, it is important to be aggressive in drawing out the information with questions
  • Go with the flow!
  • If the prospect stops you with a dollar amount, simply ask – What do you think the right number is? – put a number on a project.
  • If you don’t know what the capacity is, listen and learn – this will influence where you take your ask.
  • Tom didn’t start out asking for a 100k, he started with a specific program that tied back into the impact, which led to the ask.
  • Can you look at a very special project that will have a huge impact that i want to talk more with you about, that will also be $100K
  • It’s not negotiation, it’s a relationship.

Only 15 Minutes To Meet With New Prospect

Nick demonstrates a visit with a prospect when under a 15 minute time constraint.





Key Learning Points:

  • Establish a personal relationship and connection.
  • Even though there were only 15 minutes, the visit did not feel rushed or pressured.
  • Listen and ask questions! The prospect did most of the talking

A Triple Ask on the Very First Visit

The prospect has a very strong relationship with the college, and Tom does a triple ask the very first time he meets with her.


Tom visits with a high capacity prospect for the first time who has a strong relationship with Ohio Wesleyan University an alumnus. She is a very successful attorney with a generational connection to the school, including a her parents, two sons, and multiple other family members.






Key Learning Points:

  • Err on the side of asking and being aggressive, but be in tune with what the prospect is saying and body language.
  • If the prospect has too many options, it makes it harder for them to choose

The Clueless Close

Nick explains the Clueless Close for when you are unsure of the prospect’s capacity.

Key Learning Points:

If you are unsure of the prospect’s capacity, be very authentic and honest. I don’t know what your personal capacity is, but I know what it will take to support this program. Can you help? If you don’t know where their capacity is, just ask!


The Napkin Close

Tom demonstrates the Napkin Close with a high capacity prospect that is already invested in the organization.

Key Learning Points:

When going after a high number, such as $10M, layout a pyramid funding plan with the prospect in a template such as – 1 @ @2m, 2 @ $2M, 4 @ $5k. If the prospect is already invested and a champion for your cause, ask the questions, Would it be possible for you to take the lead on this effort? or, Where do you see yourself on this pyramid?


Discovery Close

The Discovery Close can be used when you have not been able to qualify the prospect’s interests or capacity.

Key Learning Points

  • Ask questions and listen!
  • “Where do you see yourself?”
  • “Would you be willing to share with me a little about your grant making process?”
  • “I know you give to so many wonderful projects, could you share a little about your philosophy and priorities?”
  • “I know you have a foundation but I don’t really know much about that, would you be willing to share a little before we talk about the funding plan and how you can help?”

‘The Little Engine that Could’ Syndrome

You all know the story of the ‘Little Engine that Could.’ Great little blue engine that pulled the big train chanting, “I think I can. I think I can. I think I can.” It’s about the little guy overcoming odds with attitude and proving something for himself.

It’s great. But it’s not your organization’s best story.

The Little Engine story-syndrome for nonprofits looks something like this:

“We’re really tiny but we don’t give up. We make good use of everything. We’re struggling but we’re going to make it. We believe we can. We believe we’re doing good work! Can you support us?”


Present a better story. The Little Engine That Could story is a narrative about confidence.

We want a narrative about PURPOSE!

No time for you to tell us you can give yourself a pep talk. With all due respect to the little engine, we’re not pulling a train full of toys; we’re SAVING lives, CHANGING lives and IMPACTING lives!

Channel Ghandi.

Inspire like MLK.

Heck, charge forward like Braveheart.

They were driven by a sense of PURPOSE, not self-discovery.


“If you don’t like how things are going, tell a different story.”

Here’s a really solid article from Rosabeth Moss Kanter at Harvard Business Review: If You Don’t Like Your Future, Re-Write Your Past. (June 11, 2012)

At For Impact and The Suddes Group, we talk an awful lot about the power of story.

This article reinforces the whole idea of changing the narrative … so that it creates a different view/perspective.

Every one of us can take this to heart. “If you don’t like how things are going, tell a different story.”

Here’s a For Impact example of how to ‘tell a different story.’ It’s an excerpt from our On Boards guidebook:

The best way to begin improving the dynamics of your Board relationship is to Change the Story.

OLD STORY: 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.

NEW STORY: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. Your choice.

Either way, it will become a self-fulfilling prophecy.


Tell Your Story Enough and You Will Change the World

Let me tell you a story … about an amazing man and social entrepreneur named Bill Strickland. We had the opportunity to exchange ideas with him and his team at the Manchester Bidwell Training Center in Pittsburgh.

Bill’s credited as a terrific social entrepreneur and a visionary; he’s both. More importantly, his program to transform the lives of poor youth individuals and the community works. Harvard’s done four case studies exploring the success. (By the way, Apple is the only other ‘organization’ to be the subject of four Harvard Case Studies.)

What I really appreciate about Bill is his ‘persistent story telling.’ I’ll bet he’s shared his slide show 3000+ times. I know for a fact he’s shared his story in front of every audience that will have him … in hundreds of cities … around the world.

I share this with you for two reasons. First, Bill is a great storyteller and you need to hear his story. (Listen to his TED Talk, “Bill Strickland makes change with a slide show.”)

Second, the dude works hard and you can too! Sharing your story 3000 times is hard work. It requires persistence and conviction to your message. Sometimes you end up speaking to a room of five people and sometimes Jeff Skoll is in the audience. Bill’s stories frequently include something like, “And [insert famous/influential name] was in the audience; she came up to me and said, ‘I’d like to help!’

If you tell your story 3000 times I promise these things will happen to you as well. Here’s the thing … you don’t need to share your story 3000 times. You don’t even need to share your story 1000 times. It’s just the idea of committing to MASSIVE ACTION (as Tony Robbins calls it).

What if you told YOUR story 100 times? You WILL raise some funds and change some lives.

What if you told YOUR story 1000 times? You WILL change your sector or city.

What if you told YOUR story 3000 times? You WILL change the world.

In 2011, Bill was awarded the 2011 Goi Peace Award. This is Japan’s equivalent to the Nobel Peace Prize.


Secrets of the World’s Best Storytellers

“Let me tell you a story …”

The exact same story can be told very differently by different people … or in different ways.

The STORYTELLER as a lot to do with it. To most effectively ‘share the story’ of your For Impact organization, you want a storyteller who is authentic … filled with passion for your organization … and a great communicator.

To help you tell your story the very best way possible, here are the 7 SECRETS OF THE WORLD’S BEST STORYTELLERS*:

    • Make every word count.
    • Get it perfect … then cut even more
    • Use silence.
    • Use inflection.
    • Think like an actor.
    Listen to Zig Ziglar tell the story of how the “Redhead” got him to buy his first house!!
    • Really get into it.
    • EnthusIASM (IASM: “I Am Sold Myself.”)
    • Passion.
    Storytelling is NOT a PowerPoint … Presentation … from the Podium! It’s about PERFORMANCE … whether it’s one-on-one or in front of a group.
    The absolute best stories and best storytellers make the story RELEVANT to the audience … to the topic … to the point.

At For Impact, we’re all about training, coaching … PRACTICING! PRACTICE your STORY! ‘Practice’ with everybody and anybody. The better the storyteller … the more powerful the story!

*I cannot remember (senility) where I found these 7 secrets. If you know the SOURCE, please let me know.