I’m consistently reminded by clients and boot camp alums of the power this one insight has on them.
Don’t make decisions for your prospects.
Most recently, I got a note from the head of advancement for a college who told me this ONE insight TRANSFORMED fundraising for him in 2016.
So, I think this is the perfect insight to reflect on as we start the new year.
- Don’t assume the prospect has a ‘giving level’ just because they gave at X the past three years. Maybe they haven’t been asked.
- Get comfortable with the Clueless Close. This is a great example of a way to ask – authentically – in which you’re not making a decision for the prospect.
- Use this insight to question assumptions. At some point this year a natural partner will say to you, “You should ask for $X. That’s the right number for this prospect.”
Unless that statement is product of extraordinary strategy and dialogue with the prospect, don’t make a decision to LIMIT the ask. (Don’t worry about under-asking or over-asking. (See tip #6 in 9 Tips to Help You Get to the Ask.)
When you catch this thinking you can coach yourself by asking, “What would this prospect give if they were totally committed to the impact? If this was their number one cause?” See if you can build your comfort to ask from this place.
Related: I sometimes find myself saying (with TOTAL authenticity), “It’s not my job to try and decide the appropriate investment level for you. It’s my job to make sure I make the best case for how we can have an impact and then let you decide if that’s right for you.”
- Guard against the voice inside that says, “Maybe now is not the right time to ask.” We exist to save lives, change lives and impact lives. Deciding it’s not the right time to give a prospect the opportunity to save, change and impact lives goes against everything we are trying to teach.
Point of emphasis: This is an insight (or a guiding perspective), not a strategy.
Over the holidays I picked up Tim Ferris’ new book, Tools of Titans. It’s a worthy
read companion and deserving of a whole other post (or several). Right away one nugget leaped out at me.
From James Altucher, an American Hedge Fund manager, entrepreneur, and best-selling author:
“Forget purpose. It’s okay to be happy without one. The quest for a single purpose has ruined many lives.”
That reads a little cynical to me… but leads into something we say a lot:
Finding purpose is a journey.
Being For Impact is a decision.
I don’t think we should forget purpose. We should realize it’s a journey and embrace the journey as such. Drop the pressure to decide your personal single purpose. (I think this is Altucher’s EXCELLENT point.)
BE for Impact. That’s a decision you make today. JOURNEY for Purpose. That’s a decision you can embrace forever.
Our heritage is rooted in generating funding results for nonprofits. Since 1983 we’ve built and managed capital campaigns. We developed a unique value proposition around our approach:
- We live ‘in-the-field’ making the campaign asks.
- We use a true ‘sales process’.
- Through the campaign we DESIGN the organization for ongoing funding results.
We’ve built a lot of experience through the sheer volume of activity over the past 35 years… raising $2Billion, leading over 30,000 visits, and managing over 400 campaigns.
In 2000, we started to provide training and capacity building (through For Impact) to share our frameworks with others. That effort quickly led us to realize that our DESIGN work had to include the ‘talent part’ of the equation. We had to do more to:
- Build great leaders and fundraisers in the social sector.
- Identify and recruit the right talent for our clients.
Identify and recruit the right talent for our clients.
- For Impact Search. This is a solution we provide whereby we help find the right funding talent and then help your organization through an onboarding process and implementation of a true sales model. To learn more about how The Suddes Group / For Impact can help you identify and build the right talent / model, contact Jessica Gemm.
- For Impact Fellowships. Launching in 2017. The For Impact Fellowship is designed to imprint rising stars with the skills and perspectives to accelerate impact and effect change.
- Emerging Leader Mentorship. We provide mentorship to emerging social entrepreneurs and sector leaders. Our primary vehicle for this impact is through our partnership with the Unreasonable Institute. Our coaches serve as mentors at the Institute, helping develop leaders throughout the world.
We help social entrepreneurs and really cool organizations implement a true sales model for philanthropy. The word SALES is supposed to grab your attention!
“You’re in sales, get over it.” – Tom Suddes
Most of us got into this work for the IMPACT, not the fundraising… and certainly not ‘SALES’!!! But ‘SALES’ holds the key to resourcing the impact we want to have.
Pat Williams and Jim Denney are co-authors of some the world’s great leadership biographies – from Bear Bryant and Coach Wooden to Mother Theresa. Here’s how Pat Williams writes about Walt Disney as a salesperson.
Note: I’ve pulled dozens of nuggets out of the book and threaded them together. As always, just read the book – How to Be Like Walt: Capturing the Disney Magic Every Day of Your Life
Virginia Davis (Walt’s original Alice) told Pat that Walt Disney was a great salesman:
“The more I examined Walt’s life, the more I saw what a profound insight this was. From the very beginning of his career, Walt was a salesman— one of the greatest salesmen the world has ever known.”
Many people look down on selling as somehow beneath them. I hope you don’t make that mistake. All the wealth in America can be traced to the fact that somebody somewhere sold something to somebody else. Selling is one of the most honorable professions around— and one of the most rewarding. It is also one of the toughest. What does it take to be a great salesperson? I would suggest five qualities that every great salesperson must have. Build these qualities into your life and you can sell like Walt.
Those five qualities are honesty, enthusiasm, confidence, courage and persistence.
All great salespeople are honest. Does that surprise you? That’s probably because you have been raised on the stereotype of the fast-talking used-car salesman in the plaid jacket. Sure, shysters abound, and they give a bad name to the honest salespeople who make their living by trading value for value. But the best salespeople are people of integrity. A great salesperson lives on repeat business. The key to repeat business is trust, and the key to trust is integrity. Anybody can sell to one customer one time. A great salesperson builds relationships of trust on a foundation of truth.
All great salespeople are fired up about their product. Enthusiasm is contagious; it affects everyone around you. How did a twenty-year-old cartoonist convince a group of Kansas City businessmen to part with $15,000 so he could open his studio? Enthusiasm! Voice actor Corey Burton told me, “Walt was excited about his projects, his movies, his theme park. When he was excited about something, his excitement fired up everyone around him. That’s how he sold his dreams.” Disney film editor Norman “Stormy” Palmer recalls Walt’s power to motivate. “Walt’s enthusiasm made over-achievers out of all of us,” he told me. “You got caught up with his energy, you believed in his ideas, and you wanted to please him. He transmitted his excitement to all of us. If it hadn’t been for Walt, there would have been a lot of times we would have settled for less than our best.”
Confidence is not a feeling, it’s an attitude choice.
Even if you don’t feel confident, you can still adopt an attitude of confidence. You may not be comfortable selling yourself or your product, but so what? Nobody is comfortable selling. Nobody ever became successful by staying within their comfort zone. If you want to succeed, you have to do what Walt did: take a big, confident step outside your comfort zone, and start selling your dreams.
Psychological studies show that high-achieving, successful people are not overly concerned about what others think. This was true of Walt Disney. He never catered to his critics. He never worried about rejection. He kept selling his dreams.
Walt absorbed the blows and soldiered on, fueled by a total and utter belief that his vision was right. Walt was successful because of one rock-solid Midwestern value. It’s called perseverance.
It’s worth bottom-lining these three gems:
- The best salespeople are people of integrity.
- Enthusiasm is contagious.
- Confidence is not a feeling, it’s an attitude choice. (Write this one on your MIRROR!)
Sir Alex Ferguson managed Manchester United for over 25 years, leading the club to 13 English Premier League Titles.
In his book, Leading: Learning from Life and My Years at Manchester United, Sir Alex tells a story about his own tipping point as a leader.
Prior to his post at Manchester United, he managed Aberdeen, a Scottish Football Club. He learned about the importance of ZOOMING OUT to lead. My emphasis in bold…
Watching is (an) underrated (leadership) activity…it costs nothing. For me there are two forms of observation: the first is on the detail and the second is on the big picture. Until I was managing Aberdeen and hired Archie Knox as my assistant manager, I had not appreciated the difference between watching for the tiny particulars while also trying to understand the broader landscape. Shortly after he arrived at Aberdeen, Archie sat me down and asked me why I had hired him. The question perplexed me, until he explained that he had nothing to do since I insisted on doing everything. He was very insistent… Archie told me that I shouldn’t be conducting the training sessions but, instead, should be on the sidelines watching and supervising. I wasn’t sure that I should follow this advice because I thought it would hamper my control of the sessions. But when I told Archie I wanted to mull over his advice, he was insistent. So, somewhat reluctantly, I bowed to his wishes and, though it took me a bit of time to understand you can see a lot more when you are not in the thick of things, it was the most important decision I ever made about the way I managed and led. When you are a step removed from the fray, you see things that come as surprises– and it is important to allow yourself to be surprised. If you are in the middle of a training session with a whistle in your mouth, your entire focus is on the ball. When I stepped back and watched from the sidelines, my field of view was widened and I could absorb the whole session, as well as pick up on players’ moods, energy and habits. This was one of the most valuable lessons of my career and I’m glad that I received it more than 30 years ago. Archie’s observation was the making of me.
As a player I had tried to do both– paying attention to the ball at my feet whilst being aware of what was happening elsewhere on the field. But until Archie gave me a finger wagging, I had not really understood that, as a manager, I was in danger of losing myself to the details. It only took me a handful of days to understand the merit of Archie’s point, and from that moment I was always in a position to be able to zoom in to see the detail and zoom out to see the whole picture.
Stepping back to watch from the sidelines is not natural (at least not to me!) This story has powerful leadership insights and implications for all of us.
Ferguson, Alex; Moritz, Michael (2015-10-06). Leading: Learning from Life and My Years at Manchester United (p. 18). Hachette Books. Kindle Edition.
“Every really good, really experienced CEO I know shares one important characteristic: They tend to opt for the hard answer to organizational issues. If faced with giving everyone the same bonus to make things easy or with sharply rewarding performance and ruffling many feathers, they’ll ruffle the feathers. If given the choice of cutting a popular project today, because it’s not in the long-term plans or you’re keeping it around for morale purposes and to appear consistent, they’ll cut it today. Why? Because they’ve paid the price of management debt, and they would rather not do that again.” – From the Hard Thing about Hard Things by Ben Horowitz
I’ve never heard anyone talk about ‘management debt’. What a powerful concept! It smacked me between the eyes! This is a powerful frame for leaders because it puts the notion of DEBT on indecision. Decision/indecision doesn’t just have a ‘cost’; it has a ‘debt’! It allows us to ask, “What debt will I incur in NOT dealing with this tough issue?”
THE FOR IMPACT WORKSHOP: FUNDRAISING ON A NAPKIN
Council Bluffs, IA (about 20 minutes outside of Omaha)
Thursday, December 15 8:30 AM – Noon CST
Register here using the code ficommunity for $100 off
Fundraising on a Napkin summarizes 30 years of fundraising achievement into simple, bold and actionable ideas that any organization can use – Non Profit, For Profit, Social Entrepreneur or NGO.
Whether you’re looking for strategic clarity, ‘sustainable funding,’ a jumpstart in major giving or just no-fluff advice that works… Fundraising on a Napkin delivers on all fronts. Over 3.5 hours, we will share stories ‘from the field’ and the successful and innovative ideas that have transformed thousands of organizations and raised over $2B, including:
- How to get strategic clarity
- How to simplify your message and communicate the vision
- How to find and engage with great leaders, prospects and champions
- How to build a high performing leadership team
- How to build an effective culture around funding the vision
- How to ask
This high energy, motivating session will give you a road map you can follow to re-design (or design) your organization for impact and income success.
WHAT TO EXPECT
- Example-based coaching throughout the day
- Lots of interaction so you don’t get bored – this is not one of ‘those’ workshops
- Proven frameworks and, to the extent that we’re able with time, one-on-one strategy to help you apply the frameworks
- No power point (see no. 2) but lots of visuals
- Simplicity. Complexity is not actionable, so we give you the tools that will have the greatest R.O.I. to your organization in the near term (next 100 days) and longer term (next 1000 days.)
- Value that goes beyond funding! We’re all entrepreneurs, so while we always want to create value in the form of funding results, there is a hige personal development theme to everything we do.
WHO SHOULD ATTEND
This workshop is for Executive Directors, Board Leaders and Development Professionals – Any and all responsible for shaping and implementing funding strategy.
Contact Kerry Suddes (firstname.lastname@example.org) for more information or questions.
“Plans are of little importance, but planning is essential.”
Pretty powerful nugget!
I’m working on rewriting / synthesizing a lot of our thoughts on strategic plans. Churchill’s nugget helps us with our message! – it’s not that PLANNING is bad; it’s that the traditional strategic plan ‘is of little importance’.
Every plan says the same thing, “We’re going to grow our programs, expand our offering, and work on financial sustainability.”
Program quality, growth, and revenue are simply business functions – not strategies! The majority of strategic plans don’t actually touch on STRATEGY (see Strategic Planning vs. Strategic Clarity).
We are continuing with our favorite Tom Suddes nuggets and reflections. This little story (as introduced and summarized by Tom) came to define an underpinning of our culture – especially in the early years. The shorthand from Tom would be, “Can you go ‘message-to-Garcia’ this one?” We knew what that meant.
This story was written by Elbert Hubbard, editor of the “Philistine Magazine” and published in March of 1899! I am paraphrasing Hubbard’s story… but I think you will get the point.
THE STORY: When war broke out between Spain and the United States, it was necessary to communicate quickly with the leader of the insurgents… a General Garcia. He was somewhere in the mountain vastness of Cuba – no one knew where. Mail or telegraph could not reach him… and the President had to secure his cooperation quickly.
Somebody told the President, “There’s a fellow by the name of ROWAN who will find Garcia for you, if anybody can.”
Andrew S. Rowan, West Point Class of 1881 was a First Lieutenant in the 19th Infantry, U.S.A. (Yes!) Because he knew the topography of Cuba, was familiar with Spanish, and had shown himself to be a brave and prudent solider, Lieutenant Rowan was selected for this mission.
In short, he took the letter, sealed it in an oil skin pouch, strapped it over his heart and crossed from Jamaica to the southern coast of Cuba in a sailboat. He disappeared into the jungle, made his way inland to Garcia’s camp… and delivered his message!!!
In Hubbard’s words: “The point I wish to make is this: McKinley gave Rowan a letter to be delivered to Garcia. Rowan took the letter and did not ask, ‘Where is he at?’ By the eternal! There is a man whose form should be cast in deathless bronze and his statue placed in every college in the land. It is not book learning young men need nor instruction about this and that but a stiffening of the vertebrae which will cause them to be loyal to a trust, to act promptly, concentrate their energies; do that thing – ‘CARRY A MESSAGE TO GARCIA!’”
At The Suddes Group we do these three things:
- Help organizations tell a clear and compelling story.
- Build talent and teams.
- Generate funding results (through strategic coaching and training).
Every aspect of our work comes from an aspirational point-of-view: BE FOR IMPACT. Over the years we’ve learned that you don't impact organizations — you impact the people in the organizations. Story… talent.. funding… it all begins with YOU and what it means for YOU to BE FOR IMPACT.
Today’s WOW is for YOU (and me). It continues Tom’s 'Life as a Journey' theme.
Click to open a PDF for download/printing in a new window
“This is the true joy in life, being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one. Being a force of nature instead of a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy. I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community and as I live it is my privilege – my privilege to do for it whatever I can. I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work the more I love. I rejoice in life for its own sake. Life is no brief candle to me; it is a sort of splendid torch which I’ve got a hold of for the moment and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.” -George Bernard Shaw
This quote has triple meaning for us. First, it was one of Tom’s favorites and perfectly depicts how he felt about legacy. Second, we use this as part of The Abbey Theatre presentation. And last, for any leader reading this – live and work with a splendid torch!