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Persistence Contest


  1. They know what they WANT.
  2. They BELIEVE they are worthy of receiving it.
  3. They BELIEVE they can get it.
  4. They are PASSIONATE about it.
  5. They take ACTION in the face of fear.
  6. They LEARN from their experience.
  7. They are PERSISTENT.

Quick story on #7.

An old partner at The Suddes Group, Mike McCarthy, has been a great friend for 20 years. Mike and I once had a “Persistence Contest”. We each took our hardest “pending” prospect and decided we were going to keep calling until they either said “YES” or “NO”.

I think I called about 30 times. Then I stopped.

Mike called 57 times. Finally, the guy got on the phone and said, “I just wanted to see how many times you would call me. Every time I got a message and didn’t return it, I figured you would stop. You are the most persistent person I’ve ever met in my entire career.”

“Count me in. I wanted to make this investment anyway, but your persistence was truly amazing.”

“By the way, I’d love to have you come and work for my company.”



Special Note: Going through the effort to get a visit and Share the Story/Present the Opportunity and NOT follow up is DISRESPECTFUL to the potential investor!!! It’s not about YOU. It’s about THEM.


Master Prospect List – QPI Rating System

the excel file.

Internet Explorer users, right-click and ‘Save Target As’ to download to your desktop.

Directions:We have used this tool to run hundreds of campaigns and major gifts initiatives. It’s simple and powerful. Rate your top prospects to create a master prospect list in descending order of importance. Then focus all your time (literally) on your top ten prospects — you will be amazed by the results.

Each prospect receives a rating in each category 1-5 (5 being the highest). You need to determine the rating system for each category that makes the most sense for your organization. If you are a two-person organization with a low budget a major gift may be $20,000. If you’re the American Cancer Society you may be looking more at $1M.

  Capacity This is the prospect’s capacity to make a major gift.You must decide what constitutes a major gift for your organization .Generally, it is a gift level that is worthy of one-on-one time with a prospect where you develop a specific return-on-investment for the gift.This is not an indication of what you think the prospect will invest in your organization – it is an indication of what you think the prospect COULD give.
Relationship This is an indication of this prospect’s relationship to your organization OR CAUSE.If this prospect is on your board it should be a five (5).If, for example, you are the American Cancer Society, and this prospect is a cancer survivor, the rating should be a five (5) even with no gift history .Develop a rating system to account for each number 1-5 that makes the most sense for your organization.
Timing Generally timing is always a five (5) unless you have specific knowledge otherwise.For example, we just received a major gift commitment last week … move down to a three (3).
Gift History What is this prospect’s giving history to your organization?You might determine that a five (5) on the rating scale indicates lifetime giving of $100,000+ or ten consecutive years in your Leadership Society.
Philanthropic History This is a measure of the prospect’s general willingness to give.Has he or she supported other organizations?Is it a foundation (5)? … or does this prospect have short arms and deep pockets (1)?
QPI Qualified Prospect Index:The sum weighted total of ratings in each of the five categories.You need to visit with anyone 90 and higher today!
Relationship Manager This is the person within your organization that manages the relationship — does not have to be the point of contact but must responsible for thinking about this prospect every day.
Natural Partner This is a person, internal or external to your organization that has the closest relationship to the prospect.

Get More Aggressive

Here’s a big lesson/coaching tip from recent experiences: GET MORE AGGRESSIVE!

    • Timing is perfect.
    • They just inherited a large fortune.
    • Their business is booming.

    *They love your CAUSE and CASE!!!

  • DON’T MAKE THE DECISION FOR YOUR PROSPECTIVE INVESTOR … especially before you even get there!!!
    • “They’re burnt out.”
    • “They’ve got 3 kids in college.”
    • “They’re still paying on a pledge.”
    • “I’m not sure they can do $10,000 or $100,000, etc.”

    *It’s not important whether YOU are sure. It’s not your money. Give them a chance to say ‘YES’!

  • Get (a few of) them to fall off their chair … in shock at the magnitude of YOUR PRESENTATION.If you have not caused someone lately to be SHOCKED at the SIZE of your OPPORTUNITY … you’re not THINKING BIG ENOUGH.

Everything Is An Option

Nick had me pick up a Sports Illustrated over the weekend. Lance Armstrong is on the cover.

If you are in the FOR IMPACT WORLD , it’s impossible to read this article and not be motivated by some of the ‘nuggets’!

Here’s a quick sample:

  • THE LOOK. Represents determination, persistence, I’m going to do this … whatever it takes. “Can this persistence be annoying? Absolutely. But it is useful in someone who intends nothing less than to CHANGE THE WORLD . (My caps.)
  • THE BIG GOAL. Dr. Andrew von Eeschenbach, Director of the National Cancer Institute, set the goal of “ELIMINATING CANCER AS A CAUSE OF SUFFERING AND DEATH BY THE YEAR 2015.” He went on to say that “without the spur of a deadline , big goals are MEANINGLESS.” He took a lot of heat. Still is. But, laying out the VISION and the GOAL … with a TIMETABLE is critical.
  • BONO. Bono says about Armstrong, “Most people don’t believe that the world can be CHANGED. Lance is different. He understands that hills can be climbed, and he isn’t even depressed when, upon reaching the summit of one, he sees a larger one (ahead). He’s used to that. That’s what Lance Armstrong stands for.”
  • OPTIONS. I love this. On February 17 the, Lance Armstrong Foundation brought together some of the brightest minds in the fight against cancer. (Think Leadership Consensus Building/Vision Day!) The panelists were instructed to put all OPTIONS on the table and SUSPEND DISBELIEF. “Don’t think about what can’t happen because of current realities. Think about what NEEDS to happen in your field.”
    Every one of us in the For Impact world needs to ‘PUT ALL THE OPTIONS ON THE TABLE’ and ‘SUSPEND DISBELIEF’ if we want to CHANGE THE WORLD!
  • MORE THAN A SPECIAL EVENT. LAF GALAS are one of the few ‘special events’ that actually raise a lot of money. (NET. NET. NET.) One week last fall, LAF ‘fundraisers’ in Austin and New York took in $12 Million. But, unless you’re LANCE ARMSTRONG, with his legion of contacts, network and followers, stay focused on MAJOR GIFTS! Even Lance understands that! He goes on to say, “While it is great to raise a million or a hundred million or two hundred million, what we really need is the B word and that’s BILLIONS!”
  • THINK BIG. That’s right, BILLIONS! In fact, when Armstrong was with President Bush at the ranch in Texas, he was asked by Bush what he needed in the fight against the disease. Armstrong replied, “A BILLION DOLLARS.” *To grab people’s attention, I used to suggest to ask everyone you meet for a MILLION DOLLARS. As always, Lance raises the stakes. Maybe we should be asking people for a BILLION DOLLARS!
  • NO MAGIC BULLET. von Eeschenbach says, “A lot of people in cancer are still looking for the magic bullet. Lance has demonstrated that it’s not magic. It’s personal commitment, bringing all the pieces together. There’s no simple solution, BUT THE IMPOSSIBLE CAN BE POSSIBLE.” Pretty clear.
  • KAIZEN & TWEAK. “Lance is not about INCREMENTAL progress. He wants to do something DISRUPTIVE in this fight. Meaning, very BIG.” Dave Lyon, the LAF Marketing Director. (THINK BIG!)
  • EVEYRTHING’S AN OPTION. Armstrong is talking about his new house. Points out a massive oak tree that appears to have been in that spot for a least a century. “That tree right there? Used to be over there.” (He points to a lot 200 yards away.) “I can’t believe that was an option,” says a visitor. Armstrong responds in a tone suggesting the visitor has not been paying attention: “C’MON, MAN. EVERYTHING’S AN OPTION.”

Good to Great: Another View

Special Offer: I’ve never done this before, but I will personally guarantee the ‘IMPACT’ of this book.

Not only will I buy it back from you if you don’t find the VALUE; I’ll send you a $100 ‘CHARITABLE CONTRIBUTION’ (if you get my meaning) if you send me back this book and tell me it didn’t have an ‘IMPACT’ on your FOR IMPACT ORGANIZATION.

Since I’ve spent my entire life in this sector, I would like to respectfully offer another view of some of Jim Collins’ thoughts and comments. (It’s certainly not because he is ‘WRONG’, but rather, I think, because his primary FOCUS has been in the world of BUSINESS.)

  • 18‘: Any GOOD TO GREAT measurement that is primarily based on 18 LARGE PUBLICLY HELD COMPANIES does not always produce the results that can be of value to smaller entrepreneurial organizations.In our world, if I were to use the COUNCIL OF 18 (interesting that they’re both 18!) as the model for a GREAT FOR IMPACT ORGANIZATION … it would be a joke. Most of these ’18’ are huge bureaucratic, command and control, impact-less organizations. They can’t CHANGE. They can’t let go of sacred cows or baggage. And, they’re getting their lunch handed to them by smaller, nimbler mavericks and social entrepreneurs.
  • The term ‘SOCIAL SECTOR’ is too narrow a term. It doesn’t imply education, healthcare, art, etc. Obviously, I’d love to call this entire sector the FOR IMPACT SECTOR. At the very least, we ought to go with the ‘3rd SECTOR’, which acknowledges that there is a PUBLIC and a PRIVATE and a NON-PUBLIC/NON-PRIVATE/’NONPROFIT’.
  • SOCIAL SECTOR ‘CONSTRAINTS’. I really think these are more about ‘BAGGAGE’ and ‘BOXES’ and ‘SACRED COWS’ than they are true CONSTRAINTS.This is particularly important relative to (TALENT) STAFFING CONSTRAINTS’. Getting the ‘right people on the bus‘ is still paramount, as is ‘getting the wrong people off the bus‘ and the ‘right people in the right seats‘.I have never found ‘SALARIES’ at great ‘NONPROFITS’ as any kind of true CONSTRAINT. In fact, the CAUSE usually allows for an offset. My take on this is summarized in TALENT SPECTRUM, and supported by just about everybody who writes about ‘BOOMERS’, ‘GEEZERS’, and moving from ‘SUCCESS TO SIGNIFICANCE’.
  • 3 CIRCLES/ECONOMIC ENGINE/MONEY. Of everything that Collins wrote, I found this to be the most disheartening.His 3 CIRCLES (Passion, Best in the World, Economic Engine) are perhaps the most powerful visual, framework and guiding principle for ANYONE and ANY ORGANIZATION.Anybody who ‘rebelled’ against the ‘3rd Circle’ (Economic Engine) terribly misunderstood Collins’ point (and my point).

    In my world, it’s all about IMPACT DRIVES INCOME. Which is also translated into Covey’s “No Money. No Mission.” And my corollary, which is “No Mission. No Money.

    Pastor Morgan was way off base when he talked about the ‘root of all evil‘.

    I have never been with any For Impact Leader, Social Entrepreneur or Board Member or Volunteer Leader who doesn’t understand the concept of:

  • SUSTAINABILITY. This section also brought up the ‘SUSTAINABILITY’ word. (This goes back to one of the premises/basic concepts in BUILT TO LAST.)A big, big part of me tries to help For Impact Organizations come up with a great SOLUTION … delivered with great DISCIPLINE … and then, basically try to put itself OUT OF BUSINESS! The organization may disappear but the SOLUTION remains. (A great example of this is Rotary and its incredible impact upon POLIO.)


There was a great article in USA Today at the end of last week about John Lasseter, the hyper-creative head of Pixar Studios, who now heads up all of Disney Animation. I LOVE everything that has come out of Pixar. (This includes Toy Story, Finding Nemo, Monsters Inc., and The Incredibles.) All of which, by the way, I have watched 150 times with Savannah and Keegan.

This was a wonderful article on CREATIVITY, INNOVATION and IDEAS. There was also a little “nugget” about what Lasseter and his team calls “PLUSSING” … which is taking “something that is GOOD and making it BETTER (GREAT).”

Think about that as you’re working this week. Keep “PLUSSING” everything.


New Sources of Ideas and Inspiration

One of the things I learned a long, long time ago (from really smart, creative and innovative people) was that you need to READ and SEE “OUTSIDE” your SECTOR/ SUBJECT AREA.

If you only read things within your “industry” (nonprofit world) or specialty (finance, social service, education or development), you will just be reviewing a lot of STATIC, STAGNANT THINKING.

Here are some recommendations:

  1. 3 MANDATORY Reads: Magazines
    • FAST COMPANY (Great ‘stuff’ to spur creativity and innovation!)
    • INC. (Valuable, relevant ideas to help your run your FIO.)
    • Any magazine you can find at Barnes & Noble on DESIGN.
  2. 3 MANDATORY READS: Newspapers
    • USA Today (A very ‘fast’ read with a much broader perspective, with some terrific, positive articles.)
    • A SUNDAY PAPER from OUTSIDE your city.
    • Your Local ‘Business’ Paper. Great articles. Great leads.
  3. 3 ‘VISITS’ with your TEAM
    • A DESIGN Place (IKEA, Crate & Barrel, A Museum)
    • An ‘EXPERIENCE’. Take the team to Cirque du Soleil, the next Pixar movie (Cars), whatever. (If they can come up with this imaginative fun movie about CARS … think what you can do!) Or, even go into Starbucks and view the ‘EXPERIENCE’ together.
    • The OUTDOORS. Nothing beats the mountains, the desert or a beach to get your creative juices flowing.

P.S. When you TRAVEL, you should always try:

  • A walk/run to explore the city … looking for ads, signs, marketing ideas, new billboards, innovative delivery and service practices, etc.
  • Always check out a museum or some other DESIGN space … for ideas.
  • Restaurant/Food … but instead of going there just to “eat”, try going there for the “experience” and see how they treat customers, present the menu and the food, follow-up, “sell”, etc.

United Nation of the N.G.O. World

Politics aside, how about the PARTNERSHIP of Bill Clinton and George Bush Sr.? Tsunami relief. Hurricane relief. Sharing the dais/podium all over the country, all over the world.

Read a very interesting quote from Clinton, talking about his HIV/AIDS initiative … pointing towards a new system of RELATIONSHIPS that brings together governments, nonprofit groups, investors, donors and international organizations. He said he’s seeking ways to leverage the money and power of states with the flexibility and skills of the NGOs.

The article indicated that he sees enthusiastic response to the launch of his global initiative as a signal that the world in which he operates is ready for NEW KINDS OF COOPERATION (my caps) and perhaps is ready for GLOBAL LEADERSHIP (again, my caps).

“This movement has grown so rapidly and there are so many people doing it and it’s so entrepreneurial(!) that I think it would profit from better coordination, more information sharing, and combining efforts.”

“There’s no association of NGOs. There is no United Nations of NGOs. There is no coordination. I think it would be beneficial if we all worked together more.”


The Big Old (Nonprofit) Dinosaurs Are Dying

The dinosaurs are dying.

Who wants to be a >”BIG GIANT”?

These business behemoths are fighting for survival. General Motors. Ford. Every major airline. Hewlett Packard. Sears. Motorola. Federated. Etc. etc.

Most of their “BUSINESS MODELS” just don’t work.

They’re being out flanked, outmaneuvered, and outthought … by MAVERICKS … INNOVATIVE START-UPS … ENTREPRENEURS and RADICAL THINKERS.

In the FOR IMPACT WORLD, you can see it happening with the same “GIANTS OF YESTERDAY”. They, too, have outdated “BUSINESS MODELS”.

Granted, some of these “NONPROFIT BIGGEES” have tried to change. Multiple times. Not only are they failing to “turn the battleship”, but in many, many cases, they’re just more “comfortable” with keeping things the way they are/they way they’ve always been.

My virtual mentor, Tom Peters, calls these people DSGYs (Designated Self-Appointed Guardians of Yesterday).

My own politically crude acronym is BOWGs (Big Old White Guys), which is kind of a personal euphemism for “traditional, bureaucratic, corporate, hierarchical thinking“.

Two quick examples:


I’d like to start by a great “cause” and “mission”. Wonderful staff. Impossible turnaround.

  • Chartered by Congress (Think BIG Government)
  • 125 Years Old (Think set in their ways.)
  • 50 Board Members; 30 Representing Local Chapters
  • 1 Million Volunteers and 35,000 Employees

Bernadette Healy, former Red Cross President who resigned in 2001, says “… making serious changes in the Red Cross is critical to its survival as an organization serving a crucial function for the American public”.

Yes, but … how can you possibly do that “CHANGE” with the deadly triumvirate of CONGRESS/BIG GOVERNMENT + incredible size + outdated business model???


First, let me tell you that I love the people who work and volunteer at ACS.

With that said, it’s another “HUGE” organization.

  • Almost 100 Years Old.
  • 13 Divisions (“Fiefdoms”).
  • 3,400 Local Offices Nationwide
  • 2 Million Volunteers

And, a hierarchical bureaucracy in Atlanta.

In this case, though, something is happening. Along come the RADICALS … the CHANGE AGENTS … the INNOVATORS … who believe is there is a different and better way to tackle the BIG ‘C’: CANCER.

Nancy Goodman Brinker creates the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation (her sister) and has made breast cancer awareness a big, big deal, primarily through the National Race for the Cure.

Rob Emrich of Road of Life is a passionate maverick attacking the “problem” of nutritional/lifestyle roots in grade schools.

There’s the “crazy” (my highest compliment) people at the HUTCH, the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, doing some incredible cutting-edge innovative work.

Then, of course, there’s Lance. Through his ubiquitous YELLOW “Live Strong” BRACELET, (70 million and counting) he has created a $100 Million Foundation that is small, nimble and productive. MAVERICK? It’s Lance Armstrong, the man who does everything his own way. INNOVATION? His bracelets have spawned an entire “COTTAGE INDUSTRY” within the fundraising world. THINK BIG? What would you expect from a 7-time Tour de France winner? In this case, it was a PARTNERSHIP with NIKE (the biggest, baddest, best marketing and brand machine in the world) to help “SELL” the LIVE STRONG motto.

Nancy Goodman Brinker. Rob Emrich. Andy Grove. Mike Milken. Lance Armstrong. Plus a host of others tackling this whole “CANCER” thing in a thousand different ways.

Bless them. More power to them. I only wish they were all “HOOKED TOGETHER” to EXPONENTIALLY INCREASE THEIR IMPACT. (Much like Google harnessing the power of thousands and thousands of computers to drive their incredible search engine.)

Here’s a thought. There are supposedly over 6,000 “NONPROFIT ORGANIZATIONS” with the world ‘CANCER’ in their name or their mission. Sure, some of them are scams, but most are well meaning attempts to do something about this killer disease.

WHAT IF … we could somehow figure out a way to CONNECT/HOOK UP all of these CANCER-FIGHTING organizations into a giant “GOOGLE-LIKE” NETWORK … working COOPERATIVELY as opposed to COMPETIVELY???

EVERYONE has been … is … or will be … “TOUCHED” by CANCER. We might as well work together.

A SOAP BOX moment? I wonder if any “INVESTORS” would like to see this COLLABORATION? Maybe they just want to continue to fund DUPLICATION OF EFFORT.

SPECIAL, SPECIAL NOTE to Larry and Sergey (Google) (who are clearly looking to change up the Google Foundation):

Get together Pierre, Jeff and Meg (e-Bay) and you all can probably get this COLLABORATIVE NETWORK done in the next 48 hours!

Bill and Steve (Microsoft), Jerry and Tim (Yahoo), Michael (Dell), et al., please feel free to jump on this idea as well.


You Can’t Outgrow Losses

I picked up a new book by business turnaround expert Gary Sutton called Corporate Canaries: Avoid Business Disasters with a Coal Minder’s Secret’s. It’s one of those brutal, simple truth reads where the author points out simple logic in a profound way.

Sutton says this book is all about avoiding disasters but I think it’s more about identifying the factors that can have the most dramatic effect on an organization’s finances.

First chapter: ‘You can’t outgrow losses’. To me, this is saying DO THE MATH (and address that issue FIRST). If you’re losing money on sales then more sales is not the answer. So, the For Impact corollary would be that if you’re losing money on fundraising activities – then more of them is not the answer. Seems simple … right?

“Fix profits first. Then add business … And going for more volume with bad margins only makes you die faster.”

More special events … more direct mail … more grant proposals is not the answer. (See … No More)

Fix profits (cost of fundraising) first: SALES (project-related gifts from individuals/corporations/foundations – major gifts). ABANDON special events, direct mail, phonathons, etc. THEN grow your sales operation …. First step to a major TURNAROUND.

This book is a quick and worthy read to help you AVOID disasters (watch the canary warning system) or make a quick TURNAROUND.

I also love chapter four: ‘Any Decision Beats No Decision’ … but that’s another nugget.


The Power Of Opposite Thinking

As always, I read my Inc. magazine cover to cover as soon as it came.

Adam Hanft (Grist at always has some “good stuff” on the last page of Inc. magazine every month.

THE POWER OF OPPOSITE THINKING is producing “whiplash inducing reversals (that) seem to be occurring on a near daily basis” . Long held positions are being reconsidered with game-changing agility. “That’s a healthy trend for business and the culture at large.”

Hanft gives a number of powerful examples including Microsoft making software compatible with Linux, major television networks subverting their own business model and selling program through the web and on iPods, and IBM selling its computer business to the Chinese company, Lenovo.

A terrific part of his column begins with this question: “When was the last time you considered the impossible?”

Then, this line that every For Impact leader and social entrepreneur needs to hear.

“Think about the ONE and probably HEART STOPPING STRATEGIC TURN you can make in your business (organization) …”

He has a different ending. I would simply say: MAKE IT/TAKE IT … (THE HEART STOPPING STRATEGIC TURN).