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Vocabulary Wars

From the archives, but still relevant today – Read on for how to avoid Vocabulary Wars.

Last week we were with an organization that helps homeless people find and secure permanent housing. The Executive Director of this organization had spent the last 10 years – off and on – trying to get three specific area Foundations ‘on board.’ In that time, some $10K grants had been awarded but for the most part the Foundations said, “We don’t fund projects like yours.”

The mission statements for the foundations were almost identical to that of this homelessness organization. And, each Foundation had funded similar agencies working in the homeless arena.

After some discussion, I realized that the challenge has been vocabulary, not fit. For example:

  • This organization receives about $1M annually from the government — to be used for ‘capital’. It turned out that ‘capital’ in this definition meant anything that had to do with the actual home or residence (including programs to get into the residence.) In the case of this organization, the ‘home’ was the OBJECTIVE of the program. Kind of hard to end homelessness without a home somewhere in the equation… no?
  • The Foundations avoided ‘capital’ projects. It turned out the ‘capital’ meant ‘capital campaign’ to the them – bricks and mortar, campaign committees, fancy office chairs, etc.
  • The organization had structured all of its internal vocabulary based on conversations with the government. These vocabulary words were deal killers with the private foundations who heard “capital campaign” when they wanted to focus on more “programs for the homeless.” (I’m not making this up.)

So, here’s what we did:

  • We coached the organization’s senior leadership to go back to one of the Foundations. This time the organizations was to ask questions, listen and use the Foundation’s vocabulary to advance a discussion.
  • The key questions to ask were, “What is the biggest challenge you’re seeing with respect to ending homeless in this area? How are you working to address that challenge?”
  • The Foundation said it felt a lack of ‘housing opportunities’ were available to the working poor and that it was trying to identify agencies that worked as a catalyst to create more opportunities. Note: The most critical point of this entire story is probably right here. The organization had to LISTEN to the foundation to pull off the right ask.
  • The organization’s leadership was then able to position its work as a ‘catalyst to create more housing opportunities’.
  • Both the foundation and the organization leadership described the ensuing conversation as ‘electric’ and ‘exciting.‘ They will be meeting again next month to talk about a multi-year financial partnership.

For 10 years, would-be partners had failed to align for what amounted to a vocabulary war. At times the relationship was even contentious – there were debates and arguments between foundation heads and leaders in this organization about right/wrong and ‘justice’ in funding.

It’s important to realize in this story that at 30,000’ they were in COMPLETE alignment: all parties were trying to end homelessness. The fact that the homeless organization was getting a token $10K here and there was an indicator that there was alignment on the CAUSE (WHY), but not the CASE (WHAT). The relationship was advanced – light speed – by really, really listening and aligning the solution in terms the funder understood.

The only way to avoid a vocabulary war is to listen.

Note: In the actual coaching I said to the ED, “I want you just to listen.. to really understand the foundation’s challenges. When you hear a word you don’t understand, ask them to define it. Keep listening until you can say, ‘wait a minute, we can help solve that!’”.

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Bring For Impact To Your City!

We’re excited to announce the 2016-2017 tour of our For Impact Workshop: Fundraising on a Napkin.

Workshop Overview

This workshop is a transformational experience for Executive Directors, Board Leaders, Development Teams, or anyone responsible for shaping and implementing organizational and funding strategy. We’ve simplified our biggest and boldest ideas, insights and motivations, and deliver them to you live and in person, including:

  • How to get strategic clarity
  • How to communicate your vision and message
  • 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

Partner Organizations

We field daily requests from people who want their network to hear the For Impact Point of View. This is your chance to make that happen! We’re looking for great Partners – Organizations who can help us spread the word in a community, fill the room, and host us in fantastic locations around the country. Email us now to discuss bringing the For Impact Workshop to your city as a Partner Organization.

Have For Impact Stop in Your City

If you would like to have For Impact come to you, simply vote for your city using this pre-registration form. Your pre-registration is not binding, it’s simply a way for us to crowd source our destinations. As a thank you, you’ll receive a coupon code for $100 off the registration fee ($145) for any For Impact Workshop.

After you’ve completed your form, share this post and encourage your network to vote for your city. We’ll announce our tour stops at the end of June.

More about Fundraising on a Napkin.

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Follow-Up is 90% of the Effort

Like predisposition, follow-up requires a specific strategy. Too often, wonderful presentations/asks/sales visits are wasted because there is no follow-up.

A typical scenario includes someone making a great presentation and then ‘hoping’ a gift comes as a result of the ask. Or, sometimes there is only a phone call that comes weeks (or months) later in which the substance of the dialogue is one question: “We were wondering if you had a chance to make a decision?”

It’s probably impossible to misquote or butcher one of Yogi Berra’s malapropisms, but here goes:

“Half of the game is presentation. The other 90% is follow-up.”

Huge problem: We consider our work finished when we get to the point of making the request. We feel like we’ve shared everything we can and now it must be in the prospect’s hands. That notion is wrong. In fact, follow-up is 90% of the effort!

Some reminders to help you with follow up:

  • This is not some one-off transaction. It’s all about a true relationship. Follow-up is about advancing the relationship, opportunity or plan WITH the prospect.
  • It’s either win/win or lose/lose! You’re presenting an opportunity to save lives, change lives or impact lives. Stop being so bashful.
  • Follow-up is about taking the opportunity to continue the excitement generated on the visit. You’re need to keep the momentum. This could mean:
    • An immediate follow-up letter.
    • An immediate follow-up phone call from champion or volunteer.
    • An immediate follow-up phone call from you.
  • Don’t dodge the issue! The worst follow-up is when you step politely around the pending request (hoping the prospect brings it up or announces to you a commitment.) Using your own style you need continue to work with prospect to advance the ball – be direct, sincere and authentic and remember – Hope is not a strategy.

Read more Thoughts on Follow Up from Tom.

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Talent Posting :: The Hunger Project – U.S. Fundraising Leader

Talent is a critical element for any successful team and finding the right talent is one of the top challenges facing organizations. For Impact Talent works with our clients and alumni to find and train the right talent — to lead, sell or support around a true sales model and For Impact Point of View. Periodically, we will be sharing Talent Postings with our readership.

We’re currently working with The Hunger Project to find their next U.S. Fundraising Leader, based in NYC, and are sharing this with our network to help find candidates who are passionate about sustainable international development solutions – and eager to engage a whole new group of investors to help end world hunger by 2030.

The Hunger Project is committed to the end of world hunger by 2030 – and focus their contribution in this effort on empowering communities and individuals to drive the solutions that work for them, and by partnering with like-minded groups. The Hunger Project takes a comprehensive approach – working with communities to focus on activities that will have a lasting impact on their well-being and potential.

In order to achieve this visionary – yet achievable – goal, we must significantly increase the investments made in The Hunger Project. In the United States, the biggest priority for the new US Fundraising Leader is to transform annual fundraising revenue from a static $6M to $10M and beyond over the next few years, by generating results personally and by empowering their team to succeed.

This position is meant for the leader who wants to apply their deeply relational skills and experience toward the realization of this brighter future.

For more information or to apply, contact For Impact’s Director of Talent, Jessica Gemm – jessica@forimpact.org – or visit the full profile here.

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The Talent Spectrum

Almost everyone who is looking for a senior development person or MGO (Major Gift Officer) is thinking:

“It takes a lot of money to get an ‘experienced’ Major Gift Officer …”

OR

“I can’t pay the $80,000/$100,000 (or more) that we understand it takes to get this person.”

Bottom line:  You are NOT constrained by SALARY in your search for TALENT!

Think about this creative/contrarian idea of finding TALENT at both ends of the “Talent Spectrum.” My favorite place to be looking for talent on this spectrum is on the far left or the far right.  (And I’m not talking about political leanings!)

STAGE: 22-30 30-50 50-60 60-90+
‘BEST &

BRIGHTEST’

‘PRIME-EARNING YEARS’ ‘SUCCESS TO SIGNIFICANCE’ ‘ELDERS-SAGES’
PROFILE:
  • Young
  • Passionate
  • Committed
  • Cause-Driven
  • Success-Driven
  • High Cost of Living
  • Family Priorities
  • Make A Difference
  • Seek Re-Potting
  • Great Coaches
  • Experience
  • Wisdom
  • Great Mentors
  • Untapped Resource
INVESTMENT:  CHEAP!  EXPENSIVE!!  REASONABLE.  FREE!!

Some thoughts on the ‘Spectrum:’

  • BEST & BRIGHTEST – Look on the ‘left’ end of the spectrum for incredibly passionate, excited, enthusiastic ‘BEST & BRIGHTEST!’  I would rather have two great, young, committed ‘Best & Brightest’ as Development Officers/ Major Gift Officers/Sales Staff … than an older, know everything, ‘experienced’ Development Officer. It costs the same, but I get double (triple) the coverage, usually with a much better attitude! 

    I look for ‘superstars.’ I love working with, coaching, mentoring the Best & Brightest. Look for young people who are unchallenged in their current job, bored, or just plain unhappy doing what they’re doing. Offer them an opportunity to MAKE A DIFFERENCE. 

    Seek ‘Best & Brightest’ if you’ve got a job that just requires a lot of energy, commitment, hard work, travel, etc. Don’t worry about lack of experience – think of it as no ‘baggage!’ Promise them an amazing experience, great contacts and ‘work’ days filled with challenges/meaning. 

    *Read Daniel Pink’s book, Drive: The Surprising Truth about What Motivates Us, on why people work. The new generation wants to be involved in something with a PURPOSE, not just a PAYCHECK! Many young people can view their work at a great For Impact organization as an upgraded internship or even as a kind of volunteer/youth service commitment!

  • SUCCESS TO SIGNIFICANCE – This group at the ‘right’ is a terrific RESOURCE.  Their families are raised and they are ready to get out of ‘rat race’, want new challenges and would love to use their experience and talent to help change the world! We love these ‘young in spirit,’ talented Eagles and Ducks coming from the for-profit world who are aligning a change in career with purpose.

    This group can bring a wealth of business experience, sales and financial expertise, and just plain productivity to their position/responsibilities. If it’s the ‘right fit,’ someone at this point in life can have a HUGE impact on your organization. They are looking to get ‘re-potted’ and ‘re-energized’ around something more than work, more than a job. Yes, they still need to earn income, but many have other sources, and just want to be treated fairly. Recruit them on the MESSAGE – not the MONEY!!!
  • ELDERS-SAGES – There is an abundance of TALENT sitting under this category – just waiting to be asked! ELDERS-SAGES are a HUGE untapped resource for the For Impact world!  Maybe not full-time, but these people bring so much wisdom, talent and life experience to the table, that they can have an amazing impact in only a few days a week or month.

    Look here to find wonderful, wise and (often) witty Board Members, mentors and even ‘unpaid staff.’ Elders-Sages can offer incredible TALENT for a very affordable investment, with a huge ROI. If asked, many of these ‘untapped resources will work for satisfaction/ fulfillment (vs. money!).  (I’ve know some absolutely unbelievable ‘$1.00/year’ staff that put ‘paid staff’ to shame!) 

    Here, you’ll find people who love your cause, vision and message … a have a lot to contribute … and ‘HUNGER for these OPPORTUNITIES!!!’ 

    Just ASK them if they are interested! Ask a great Board Member who fits this profile to join you as a full-time/part-time STAFF PERSON! If ‘60 is the new 50’ then 70 and 80 are the new 60! ‘Boomers’ (millions of us) aren’t ready to retire, play golf, sit around the house, etc. We/they want to make a difference.   And, it’s not about ‘money!’ They will help and even INVEST!

    See Marc Freedman’s book, The Big Shift for great stuff on ’boomers’ and ‘second careers’ at For Impact organizations.

“Only one in five Americans over 55 is currently on the job …. Older Americans are wealthier, healthier and living longer …. And there is ample evidence that they ‘HUNGER’ for OPPORTUNITIES … to contribute their experience and time in meaningful ways.”

America’s healthy aging population is the country’s only INCREASING NATURAL RESOURCE.”

-Marc Friedman (Prime Time)

  • PRIME EARNING YEARS – People ‘in the middle,’ God bless them, need a job!  Their focus is often on ‘the job,’ a paycheck, supporting their family. A focus on ‘heart,’ particularly the element of ‘taking a smaller salary for work you love,’ is much tougher when you’re responsible for a family.

Look at this ‘TALENT SPECTRUM’ as a way of creatively adding great staff and volunteer leaders. I’m not suggesting you overlook all of the wonderful, talented, committed people who are in their “prime-earning years.” But don’t get caught up in thinking this is the BEST OR ONLY place to look because you need someone with X years of development experience!

Bottom line: Best & Brightest, Elders-Sages, Success to Significance. All of these are wonderful places to SEARCH FOR TALENT.

HIRE FOR ATTITUDE. TRAIN FOR SKILL (at the For Impact Boot Camp.) No more expensive hiring mistakes!

 

 

 

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Join us for Boot Camp in Dublin on June 1st!

Join us for Boot Camp in Dublin, Ireland on June 1, 2016.

The For Impact Boot Camp is focused on frameworks and skill building – You will leave with the knowledge you need to simplify your message and funding rationale, and take your organization to the next level.

This high-energy, day long session covers topics like:

  • How to execute against a sales process (for major gifts, campaign gifts, transformational gifts, etc.)
  • How to build and maximize relationships
  • How to build and lead an effective team
  • How to ask, close, and follow-up

The Boot Camp is perfect for organizational alums, new hires, or anyone looking to hone individual skills – both personal and professional!

Early bird pricing is available for both sessions. Discounts are also available for Alumni Organizations and teams with 4 or more participants.

For More Information, FAQs and Registration:
For Impact Funding Boot Camps
Wednesday, June 1, 2016 | Dublin, Ireland
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The Three Roles of the Sales Leader

Following up on my post about the ‘Sales Driven Funding Operation.’

A critical position on a Sales Team is the Sales Leader.

IF you are committed to a Sales Team then you should identify the Sales Leader – the person who fulfills these duties:

  • The ultimate PLAYER/COACH: This person has the street cred and is usually the organization’s BEST sales person. This person has also accepted the role of COACH to the team.
  • Has ultimate ACCOUNTABILITY: This person is 1) accountable for the Sales Team results, and 2) the person to whom each Salesperson is ultimately accountable.
    • There are also cases in which the Sales Leader can use others to support this function. Example, let’s say your team has ten Salespeople – they can report to a deputy but ULTIMATELY report to the Sales Leader.
  • The ultimate PLAY CALLER (or referee): If three Sales Team members want different changes to the engagement tool (for instance) the Sales Leader is empowered to LEAD and make-the-call, end-the-dispute, or unite-the-team around a clear decision.

Just having this vocabulary has been powerfully clarifying for organizational leadership responsible for building Sales-Driven Funding Operations.

 

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Henry Ford’s ‘One Secret of Success’

“If there is any one secret of success, it lies in the ability to get in the other person’s point of view and see things from that person’s angle as well as your own.” – Henry Ford

I’ve trained over 1,000 development professionals and leaders. One thing I’ve observed – those that perform at the highest levels always have a high degree of empathy.  Yet, in no instances that I can recall, have I seen a search committee or hiring manager put a premium on this skill that Henry Ford called the ‘one secret of success.’

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Sales Nugget: The Importance of Personal Goals

Tom has been receiving notes from around the world, people reaching out to share what he has taught them. One of the big themes has been the importance of Life Balance. With our own team, we call this “Integration” – Being able to integrate all the facets of your life to achieve happiness, fulfillment and overall health.

Here’s a great note from the archives – Tom talking about his mentor who introduced him to “personal goals” and “family first.”

It may seem a little weird to talk about “PERSONAL GOALS” when you’re dealing with SALES or SALES GOALS. Frank Sullivan, however, was all about writing out ALL of his goals and plans – personal, financial, business, health, etc.

Frank was literally the first person in my “business life” (and, actually, one of the very few people) that talked about his personal life and his family and his own goals – as they related to his business and sales goals.

Frank’s the one who first gave me the idea of solo time with the kids, which I turned into BIRTHDAY BREAKFAST, where we went over their favorite books, TV, friends, food – And, did their GOALS for the upcoming year! I tried to capture all these notes in one journal/green book (that I still have today.)

By the way, if you’ve never done ‘GOALS’ with a 3-year-old, you’ve really missed out!

Frank came down with Alzheimer’s at the end of his life, but, by then, he had impacted so many people and left a huge legacy. “Personal goals” and “family first” were his GIFT to me. I am forever grateful.

 

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Selling Happens at 30,000′: The Jerry Maguire Close

Leigh Steinberg is a sports agent who represented the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL draft a record eight times – a milestone unmatched within the sports industry.

Steinberg is often credited as the real life inspiration of the sports agent from the film Jerry Maguire.

Reportedly, Steinberg had a chief aim when going into any negotiation – to get the person he was with to agree that his athlete was the best (fill in the blank: quarterback, running back, etc) in the league. Once he got them to agree the rest of the negotiation was pretty easy.

Selling happens at 30,000′.

The number one question of every investor is, “Why do you exist?”

If the person you are talking to doesn’t care about your WHY, it’s very hard to talk to her about the what and the how. Conversely, if your WHY is her number one priority (i.e. you have the best running back in the league), you need establish that fact as early as possible.

More on closing here.

 

 

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On Practice and Excellence

 

We strive to be ‘Best in the World’ at the ASK.  We are constantly training and improving as a team in this area.  Here are some quotes/thoughts on the importance of practice and excellence.

I think they are relevant to anybody who strives to be world class in their own domain.  

“Excellence is a habit.” – Aristotle

Tom Brady has returned to his coach, Tom Martinez, 4 times per year for the past 17 years for a tune up!

Immediately following her 2015 U.S. Open second round win, Serena Willams went to the practice courts for 90 minutes!

“The enemies of practice are pride and fear and self-satisfaction.”   – Practice Perfect

“It’s a funny thing.  The more I practice, the luckier I get.”  – Arnold Palmer

“If I skip practice for one day, I notice.  If I skip practice for two days, my wife notices.  If I skip for three days, the world notices.”  – Vladimir Horowitz, Virtuoso Pianist

Note:  Two fantastic reads on this include Practice Perfect and The Talent Code.

 

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