Latest Posts

Your Funding Plan Supports Your Case

I’ve been a road warrior the past two months. For schools, entrepreneurial start-ups and other organizations a big epiphany continues to be the idea that your funding plan actually is part of your case for support.

To me, the funding plan is the HOW behind the big picture dollar goal and the big picture dollar goal is what you need to deliver on your vision. So, in essence, this is HOW you will deliver on your vision. Is that important? You bet!

I’ve found that most organizations don’t have a funding plan.

Three simple action steps here:

  • Determine the dollar amount you need for both operations and projects. What is the lump sum? Do the math! 80% of organizations can’t answer this question.
  • How many investments would you need – and at what amounts to achieve this goal?
  • When? (One year? Three years? Five years?)

The funding plan does a few things as it relates to your case:

  • It makes it believable
  • It shows a potential investor how she/he would fit into the funding vision.
  • It also illustrates that you’re not just picking a number out of the air – there is logic.

Extra bonus: There are times when you can actually ask the potential investor, “Where do you see yourself in this plan?” Then, you let them select a dollar level.


Return On Energy

Here is a simple idea you can use to frame your thinking around your funding plan:


This seems to be especially big for organizations trapped in a transaction-based system of special events (life-sucking, volunteer-draining) with often and incredibly low RETURN ON ENERGY.

If that describes your organization then think about this rhetorical question: What would happen if you did away with one event. Then, you focused all that energy (time, urgency, people, resources) on building a great relationships with one or two prospects that could invest $1Million in your vision?


  • Special Events As Fundraisers Stink– they’re not special.
  • Major Gifts: Raise the most money at the least cost.
  • 97/3: 97% of the money/investments comes from 3% of your family … focus on the 3%


Last week I was with a school in Albuquerque. The bulk of the funding strategy revolved around special events … in fact, they were running FIVE events. The board was drained. It made a commitment to CHANGE the way it FUNDED the VISION. In only one week so far, the board has generated more than $80,000 to fund student scholarships by working only a few key phone relationships. To really see the ‘WOW’ you need to know that they these events were consuming hundreds of volunteer hours and netting an average of $30K – $50K each (with a funding cost as high as 70 cents to raise a dollar – yikes).

To me, this is a wonderful example of stopping to think about the RETURN ON ENERGY, making a commitment to change and enjoying IMMEDIATE RESULTS.

Final Note: This applies to EVERYTHING you’re doing. Take a moment this Friday morning to think about your RETURN ON ENERGY.



I see and hear and review a lot of organizations’ plans for “funding”, for a “campaign” and for “fundraising”. It seems like they’re always FOCUSED on a big word, for them: SUSTAINABILITY. For some reason, I hate that word.

SUSTAINABILITY” is a function of IMPACT! (Not INCOME.)

It seems like every “nonprofit” in the world is looking for “ENDOWMENTS” for “SUSTAINABILITY”.

Rather, if you FOCUS on your IMPACT… and your DELIVER on your IMPACT… there will always be INVESTORS who will help you FUND YOUR VISION.


Culture for a High Performance Sales Team

This nugget may be geared more towards the SALES MANAGERS in the For Impact world. But, I love the closing chapter of Wilson’s CHANGING THE GAME.

Wilson’s definition of a HIGH-PERFORMING WORK TEAM:

“A group of committed people who, by working and sharing together, are getting optimal results over a long period of time because they are doing they want to do and being who they want to be.”



Wilson closes with his FIVE FACTORS OF HIGH PERFORMANCE TEAMS, listed in order of importance:


Wilson and Suddes agree that you need to write out the following and put it where you can see it every day.


–Larry Wilson




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.