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You Need Funds “For What?”

You Need Funds “For What?”

We were brainstorming about a coaching client. Talked about trying to get them to stop begging for money … and start answering the question:

“FOR WHAT?”

We can’t figure out why this ends up being so powerful, but it just is. In the start-up/entrepreneurial world, we call this USE OF FUNDS. It answers the question: “Where does the money go?”

It’s tied directly to packaging your Priorities and Projects and Programs (obviously around your IMPACT) vs. ASKING FOR MONEY!

Stop begging for money. Start talking about the WHAT and the USE OF FUNDS!

Nick’s Note: Stop Cultivating and Start Communicating

Nick’s Note: Stop Cultivating and Start Communicating

“Why do we cultivate people?” As Tom always reminds me, “Cultivation is that thing you do with plants and manure.”

I really, truly don’t understand ‘cultivation.’ We are in the business of saving, changing, and impacting lives. If you can help people understand your impact then it’s really not about cultivation; it’s about asking whether or not they want to help you with your cause.

I use a simple story to emphasize my point. Imagine that you and your prospect were walking around a lake and came upon a drowning child. What would that prospect do? It’s likely she would jump in, fully committed to save the life of the child (so would you). I can’t imagine a scenario where you would first try to spend years getting this person interested in saving children (read: cultivation).

So … if you’re saving or changing lives then you can’t really argue that we need more cultivation. I would propose that the issue at hand is really much more about communication. That is, how you communicate your impact in such a way that is clear, concise and compelling. So clear, in fact, the prospect jumps on board (read: into the lake) to make a major investment in your vision.

If you can communicate the impact, the income will follow. If you can communicate the impact, you can ask for any amount of money on the first (sometimes second) visit. The challenge, again, is that we struggle with our message. Or, we might even have the message, but we’re not out visiting with people, one-on-one, to share the message and present the opportunity for them to help (save the child – as it were).

Your job is to communicate the impact, not spread manure. I know that’s blunt but I want to motivate you to action with this idea. You’re doing great things … so present the opportunity for someone to help … now.

People come from all over the world to the For Impact Boot Camp because they need more money. In order to address that, we spend almost half of the Camp talking about HOW to COMMUNICATE the IMPACT. It’s all about communication, and it’s why attendees have success when leaving. They have the ability to communicate their impact in such a way that it is as clear as saving a drowning child.

P.S. If you think my example is too simplistic or unrealistic, please know that this same example is what set into motion the greatest philanthropist of our era – I’ve altered the lake example somewhat but borrowed it from noted philosopher and ethicist Peter Singer who wrote an amazing article in the New York Times, “What Should a Billionaire Give – and What Should You?” In that article he also explains Bill Gates’ moment of clarity around impact that moved him to action.

Get Those Who Get Your CAUSE, Then Sell Your CASE.

Get Those Who Get Your CAUSE, Then Sell Your CASE.

Cause: Your reason for existence. The big problem you’re trying to solve or change.

Case: Your approach. Your model. The way in which you impact the CAUSE.

Think about the difference between CAUSE and CASE.

The goal is to be with people who already understand the CAUSE. Then you can spend time engaging them with the CASE.

Granted, some of you have a very niche cause … or a ‘not-pretty cause.’ There are people out there who get it. THESE are your prospects.

We watch a lot of organizations try to build case statements and the bulk of the message is about the CAUSE. If someone already gets the CAUSE, then you’re wasting your message. If someone doesn’t get the CAUSE, then you’re wasting your focus.

Drucker: 5 Most Important Questions

Drucker: 5 Most Important Questions

Peter Drucker was certainly the management guru of all gurus and master of simplicity. (Although his book MANAGEMENT is 568 pages!)

Drucker talks about THE 5 MOST IMPORTANT QUESTIONS YOU WILL EVER ASK ABOUT YOUR ORGANIZATION. Jim Collins, Philip Kotler and Francis Hesselbein all contributed here.

Here are Drucker’s 5 self-assessment questions:

  • WHAT IS OUR MISSION?
  • WHO IS OUR CUSTOMER?
  • WHAT DOES THE CUSTOMER VALUE?
  • WHAT ARE OUR RESULTS?
  • WHAT IS OUR PLAN?

We love Peter Drucker’s thinking and his ‘stuff.’ Although he has positioned these 5 questions for any ‘ORGANIZATION,’ we think they could be slightly re-worded or re-positioned for all FOR IMPACT ORGANIZATIONS.

  • WHAT IS OUR PURPOSE?

    Vision. Impact. Mission. Reason for our Existence. Highest Level of Engagement.

  • WHO DO WE IMPACT?

    Directly. Indirectly. Ripple Effect. Individuals, Families, Community, Diaspora, the World.

  • WHAT ARE OUR PRIORITIES?

    Goals. 3 Circles. 3 Buckets. Focus.

  • WHAT IS OUR PLAN?

    Action Plan. Funding Plan. Math.

  • WHO SHOULD INVEST?

    Impact Drives Income. Ideal Profile. Master Prospect List.

We’re always amazed that some incredible organizations we’ve worked with have trouble with ANY of these 5 questions. The fact is, almost no organization we’ve ever worked with has simple answers (that are clear, concise, and compelling) to these questions.

Once you’ve thought about these ‘answers’… you can turn them into a wonderful PRESENTATON TOOL around PURPOSE, PRIORITIES and PLAN.

‘FRAMING’ … It’s a BIG DEAL!

‘FRAMING’ … It’s a BIG DEAL!

FRAMING a message … FRAMING a story … FRAMING an issue.

FRAMING is about CHOOSING THE LANGUAGE to define the subject.

FRAMING is about FITTING priorities/issues INTO broader story lines.

This is huge. You need to THINK ABOUT the way you:

  • FRAME … Your MESSAGE (With a great story, Grand Metaphors, Visuals, etc.)
  • FRAME … Your priorities, projects and programs
  • FRAME … both your CAUSE and your CASE

WHY do I think this is IMPORTANT???

Because the bottom line is you’re FRAMING your IMPACT … the IMPACT which drives your INCOME!

SHARE THE STORY PRESENT THE OPPORTUNITY

Make Your Vision a Reality

Make Your Vision a Reality

It all begins with VISION. Having a great VISION, a great idea that can impact the world, help people, save lives.

To make that vision a reality, you must be able to clearly articulate it. You need a CLEAR, SIMPLE MESSAGE.

Then you’ll build on that message … with the storylines, the math, and last of all, the presentation tools that put it all together to COMMUNICATE your VISION to prospective investors … volunteer leadership … your team … anyone who will help make your vision a reality.

You need to:

  • Have a clear, compelling VISION/PICTURE of the future … and your impact.
  • Be able to articulate that vision as a powerful MESSAGE … with 3 great STORYLINES.
  • Have the accompanying MATH and PLAN on how to get there.
Nick’s Note: Strategic Planning v. Strategic Clarity

Nick’s Note: Strategic Planning v. Strategic Clarity

 
I’m tired of reading lengthy strategic plans that don’t derive-from or result-in real strategic clarity.

  • In past year I have been with several foundations that have asked organizations for ‘strategic plans.’ Speaking to the foundations directly, I can say that what they’re really asking for is STRATEGIC CLARITY — not 40 pages of ‘stuff.’ It’s a vocab issue.
  • IMPACT drives INCOME. In order to get funding results we [The Suddes Group] always have to back our way into helping an organization get REAL strategic clarity so that we have a clean strategy, message and case for support for funders. Funding, at the point, then simply becomes about execution. We can coach and train people to execute.

Strategic Plan vs. Strategic Clarity

Think about the difference in these two terms.

Every organization needs strategic clarity and a 1000-day action plan. They need to have everyone on the same page about:

  • The purpose (the WHY) and the vision (the ultimate goal) (at 30,000’).

    This should fit on a napkin.

  • No more than THREE* simple strategic priorities (at 14,000’) that advance the organization toward the goal, aligning with purpose.

    These should fit on the back of that napkin.

    *Drucker was even simpler. He said every organization should have at most TWO priorities … WOW!

  • A 100-day (near term) plan of action tied to each priority and a 1000-day plan of action with benchmarks that run more fluid for quarterly review.

    This should fit on one sheet of paper (maybe two) if you stay at the strategic level.

Every day I talk with someone who needs or wants a ‘strategic plan.’ I can’t identify with that term anymore because it means so many different things. In each case though, they need clarity and simplicity. Only about half the time do they need to do a lot of consensus building (think: visits, dialogue and time) to bring everyone on the same page.

Over simplified? No.

No More Mission Statements

No More Mission Statements

 

 
No one, and I mean literally no one, can recite their organization’s Mission Statement. This is not just true in the “Not-for-Profit” world but in the “For Profit/Business” world as well.

Mission Statements are WORDY, ALL INCLUSIVE, POLITICALLY CORRECT STATEMENTS WRITTEN WITH A THESAURUS BY A COMMITTEE.

If you don’t believe me, TEST IT! Ask three or more staff and volunteers to recite, in unison, your Mission Statement (without looking)!

 

 

*Compare this to Mother Theresa’s Mission Statement: “We must radiate God’s love.”

Your real goal is to have a MESSAGE that is CLEAR … COMPELLING … and CONCISE … and can be delivered in a CONSISTENT fashion! 

“The true Mission Statement expresses your raison d’etre, the purpose or reason for your existence. It should be the invisible life force that drives and unifies.”
Soar With Your Strengths,
Donald Clifton, Paula Nelson

It’s not just your organization that has trouble with Mission Statements. It’s a universal problem in the ‘real world’ of ‘for-profit’ business as well. (I’m wondering what ‘Mission Statements’ motivated Enron, WorldCom, Lehman Brothers???)

My favorite example is from a great company … that is 100 years old … and has a following that we all would die for:

 

 

This is my favorite company because it’s my ‘vehicle of choice’. But, this could be the ugliest, least inspiring, can’t believe they wrote it … Mission Statement ever.

However, look at the message, tagline, battle cry that is engraved, inspired or tattooed(!) somewhere on their ‘iron horses’, ‘hogs’, or bodies:

LIVE TO RIDE. RIDE TO LIVE.

You get the point.

Special Note: The Harley-Davidson mantra can be paraphrased for all your investors:

LIVE TO GIVE. GIVE TO LIVE.

It’s not about your MISSION STATEMENT … it’s about your MESSAGE.

The real goal is to have a MESSAGE that is CLEAR… CONCISE… COMPELLING… and can be delivered CONSISTENTLY.

Your MESSAGE should be able to be captured on a NAPKIN… and communicated in as few words as possible, ideally with a picture (visual).

Take a tip from the political world and STAY ON MESSAGE!

P.S. Don’t worry about trying to ‘change’ your Mission Statement. Leave it alone. It’s too painful a process. Just work on your MESSAGE!

“A customer can say ‘NO’ because the offer doesn’t apply to them; but NEVER because they didn’t UNDERSTAND IT!!!”
Jumpstart Your Brain,
Doug Hall

In our world, that means someone can say, “not now” or “not a priority” for legitimate reasons, but never because they didn’t UNDERSTAND the VISION/MISSION/ MESSAGE!!!

3 Big Keys:

SIMPLICITY BREVITY CLARITY

“WE CAN’T POSSIBLY DO WHAT YOU’RE SUGGESTING, TOM. WE ARE JUST ‘TOO BIG’, ‘TOO IMPORTANT, TOO COMPLEX’.”

It takes 3 pages just to ‘introduce’ your organization as a preface to a 30-page proposal or grant request!!! (for $10,000!!)

Think about these ‘taglines’ as a Message:

“We’ll put a man on the moon before THE end of decade.”
“I have a dream.”
“Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.”
“He’s not heavy, he’s my brother.”
“1,000 Points of Light.”
“Just Do It.”
“Like a Rock.”
“Live to Ride. Ride to Live.”

Bottom line: WHAT’S your MESSAGE???

What’s in a Message?

What’s in a Message?

 
90% of the funding challenges organizations have are a function of

  • Not asking
  • Not being with the right prospects
  • Not having the right message (which usually makes number 1 much easier and makes number 2 much more apparent).

Message should be simple, fit on a napkin – clear, concise, compelling. That being said,not sure we have our own crystal clear napkin definition of MESSAGE. In fact, when someone says they need help with their message, we first ask them to define what they mean.

We’ve been referring to ‘message’ as:

That, and only that, which a prospect needs to UNDERSTAND in order to say, “I totally get it!”

*And, if a qualified prospect, to also say, “I’m IN!”

Think about it. UNDERSTAND. It’s not:

  • What you SAY
  • What you PRINT
  • What you put in a 10 page case statement.

If you can work with that definition, then 99.9999% of those reading this can resolve their message (ultimately) to one of the following:

  • CHANGE LIVES
  • SAVE LIVES
  • IMPACT LIVES

If I, as your potential investor, could understand that I can SAVE LIVES, then it’s game over. No longer about ‘fundraising,’ no longer about ‘cultivation,’ no longer about ‘asking for money.’

Common response from those too close to the issue: “It can’t be that simple.”

Yes it can.

Sometimes the ‘message derivative’ could be:

  • ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
  • TRANSFORMING EDUCATION
  • ENDING CANCER

Again … all SIMPLE. These are all applications of SAVE LIVES. CHANGE LIVES. IMPACTING LIVES.

I don’t want to lose a very important word in the definition – UNDERSTAND.

So how do you make me UNDERSTAND?

  • Be simple and don’t make me work to UNDERSTAND why your program is awesome.

    Don’t use big, complex words. Don’t be an academician. Concept everything up to its highest purpose. “Ultimately the reason we’re doing this is because it SAVES LIVES.”

    How many times do we read someone’s case statement only to SEARCH for the WHY.

    We’re not a fan of case statements – largely for this reason. However, if you HAVE to do one, don’t fall for pretty prose. Bold your message, then put a lot of white space around it to make it stand out from all the other stuff.

    Note: Google ‘Steve Jobs keynote’. The dude puts up slides with one word and or one visual – very good at making SIMPLE message points. While most of our thoughts address the 1:1 or small group setting, this shows how they can apply to a large group presentation.
  • Repetition.

    Just because the idea that you’re CHANGING THE WORLD didn’t sink in the first time you said it does not mean you should change your message.

    • Listen to any GOOD politician. She will repeat her message over and over.
    • Listen to any Zig Ziglar audio (random reference). Zig often says, “I’m going to repeat this three times to emphasize that it’s really important.”

    Key is that you don’t move OFF message just because you hit on it once.

  • Conviction

    I think repetition must be coupled with conviction.

  • Show – don’t tell.

    Sometimes it’s not about finding the WORDS to help me understand. Sometimes you just need to SHOW – either because there are no words or because you/I/we can’t find words to do any justice.

    This could be visual. Better than 50% of us are VISUAL. Use PRESENTATION TOOLS or VISUAL concepts to communicate concepts.

    For some, pictures and visuals may be just a start but an EXPERIENCE could be even better.

    We worked with a start-up school taking a very novel approach to learning. We probably visit 15 schools each year, and have never seen anything like this – kids in 7th and 8th grade would’ve outperformed most college kids. Everyone who walked the halls of the school felt/saw/understood the magic … We made it our strategy to get people to the school. We used words AFTER the visit to have a dialogue about the impact.

  • Start with ME – not you.

    This is about ME (the prospective investor) understanding. Not you. You know everything about the project and the organization and I know nothing. Of the 632 things you could say TO me, I probably only need the right THREE to help ME understand. This is why LISTENING is so important.

    At our trainings, we do an exercise where we pair up two people who have never met. They have five minutes in which person A is to communicate everything she needs to communicate to get the other person to say, “I get it. I understand what you do. I could share that with others.”

    In some groups, person A will talk – fast, nonstop for five minutes. In those cases person B looks worn out and lost after five minutes.

    In other groups person A will introduce a talking point then ask a question – allowing person B to give feedback … Person A listens and uses that feedback to share even more targeted and relevant message points … and on and on. After three minutes, person B usually says, “Got it! Really cool!”

    The point? Helping someone understand is not about talking at them.

After the SIMPLE definition there is room for deeper conversation/definition. A great message (APPLIED to FUNDING) must answer the three questions of EVERY investor:

  • WHY?
  • WHERE is the MONEY GOING?
  • HOW WILL YOU GET THERE?
    • What is the plan? AND/OR
    • What do you need from me? AND/OR
    • Why are you asking me for XYZ? (Rationale)
Simplify Your Message

Simplify Your Message

Please, please, please. Don’t blow off this ‘LESSON’!

The SIMPLER the MESSAGE … the STRONGER the CASE/RATIONALE FOR SUPPORT. You’ve heard this from me (ad nauseam):

“If you can’t SAY IT … ON A NAPKIN … you can’t SELL IT!”
(Suddes)

‘Elevator Pitches.’ ‘One-Minute Selling.’ A ‘Napkin.’ The ‘Blue Box.’ ‘3 Buckets.’ I don’t care what you call it. Just SIMPLIFY YOUR MESSAGE.

FUNDING THE VISION is very different than ‘BUILDING CAMPAIGNS,’ ‘CAPITAL CAMPAIGNS’ and ‘CAMPAIGN CAMPAIGNS.’ It’s ALL about the VISION of the ORGANIZATION … and tied directly to the MISSION/MEANING/MESSAGE.

A quick ‘story’ from the field: Colorado College President Dick Celeste took less than a year to bring the entire campus together for their MAPPING PROCESS (AGENDA). Out of that came these THREE THEMES:

  • RIGOROUS INTELLECTUAL EXPERIENCE
  • DIVERSE & RESPECTFUL COMMUNITY
  • NEXT GENERATION CAMPUS

Those 3 THEMES became these 3 BUCKETS:

  • BEST FACULTY
  • BEST STUDENTS
  • BEST CAMPUS

…which required a $300 Million Investment...to FUND THIS VISION.

Quotes to Help You With the Rules

Quotes to Help You With the Rules

 

“You can’t solve a PROBLEM
if you are playing by the RULES.”

- Paul Arden

 

THERE are NO RULES.”
- O.G.

 

SELLING has become more complicated, competitive and complex…
thus the need for DRAMATIC CHANGE!
We will not survive by just tinkering with the RULES of the OLD GAME.
We need to CHANGE the entire GAME.”

- Larry Wilson

 

“If it ain’t broke, break it.”
- Entrepreneurial Mavericks

 

“The Manifesto of a deal maker is simple. Reality is negotiable.
Outside of science, law (and ethics) … all RULES can be BENT or BROKEN!

- Tim Ferris, 4-Hour Work Week

 

“I get up every morning determined
to both CHANGE THE WORLD and to have one hell of a good time.
Sometimes, this makes planning the day difficult.”

- E.B. White

 

“What doesn’t kill us, makes us stronger!”
- Nietzsche

 

“It’s the END OF THE WORLD as we know it…
and I feel fine.”

- R.E.M
Quotes to Help You With Change

Quotes to Help You With Change

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EVERY organization needs to ABANDON
almost EVERYTHING that it does.”

- Peter Drucker

 

EVERY organization is PERFECTLY DESIGNED
to get the RESULTS they are getting.”

- Tim Kight

 

“If you don’t like CHANGE,
you’re going to like IRRELEVANCE even less.”

- General Erik Shinseki

 

“I don’t trust anyone who isn’t trying to CHANGE the world.”
-Tom Peters

 

“We don’t need COINS. We need CHANGE.
- Sign in a Window

 

CHANGE is one thing. PROGRESS is another.”
- Bertrand Russell

 

“The cumulative weight of experience
makes it very hard to CHANGE.

- Dr. Michael Merzenich, UCSF Professor

 

“We have to be prepared for CHANGE.”
- Santiago in The Alchemist

 

CHANGE your THOUGHTS and you can CHANGE the world.”
- Norman Vincent Peale

 

CHANGE is inspired best by EMOTIONAL APPEALS,
rather than factual statements.”

- Edward Bernays

 

LEADERS can’t help but CHANGE the present,
because the present isn’t good enough.”

- Marcus Buckingham

 

“It’s often easier to KILL an organization
than CHANGE it in any significant way.”

- Kevin Kelly

 

“If people in organizations can’t CHANGE,
the organization will die.”

- John Byrne

 

“It’s easier to change PEOPLE than to CHANGE people.”
- Kets de Vries (via Tom Peters)

 

“People don’t CHANGE.
You’re either an eagle or a duck. It is what it is.”

-Tom Suddes