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Raising Money with Martial Arts Wisdom

It happens at every organization, every day, every where. A founder, executive director
or fundraiser is trying to gather support (financial and otherwise) from someone, such as
a board member or community leader. He or she should be the perfect prospect and easy
visit … instead we encounter ‘objections.’

I’ve always struggled with this concept: objections. We have a terrific opportunity. The
people with whom we visit (prospective investors) WANT to SAVE LIVES, CHANGE
LIVES and IMPACT LIVES. What are widely viewed as objections are more often (1)
real questions, (2) ways of saying “I don’t understand” or sometimes even (3) “I don’t
understand but I want to help so let me suggest a lot of stuff that I’ve seen work

How you address these situations is critical. For that, turn to philosophy + martial arts.
Turn to Aikido. Aikido translated literally means “the way of harmony of life energy.”
It’s a form of martial arts in which you join incoming thrusts and redirect them with
minimal effort
and without inflicting harm on the aggressor. According to Aikido’s
founder, it is literally the Art of Peace.

If you get a zinger of a question or a response that could take you off course – work with
it. Don’t try to ‘oppose it.’ Don’t get defensive. Raising your hands to block a person
means you absorb the blow … you literally have to push back with equal and opposite
force (wasted energy) to absorb the blow. Instead, practice Aikido and redirect the
incoming zinger back to your impact, your message or your plan.

Note: Politicians practice Aikido every day. Watch ANY political debate. Instead of
getting defensive when a tough question is asked, the politician redirects toward his or
her message.

O.G.’s Notes: You Can’t Screw Up, If You Show Up

My partner and President/Leader of For Impact | The Suddes Group, Nick Fellers, is a borderline genius. Smart. Action-oriented. Authentic.

He has many great lines, but I heard him say this on the phone once and it just struck me as so freakin’ right on in his role as COACH.

“You can’t SCREW UP … if you just SHOW UP!”

While Nick was speaking with one of his coaching clients, I think that message needed to get out to everyone.

Before you can JUST ASK.



You need to SHOW UP! (JUST ENGAGE!)

If Not You, Who???

If you (or someone in your organization) is not out making VISITS, making
PRESENTATIONS, making ASKS … who do you think will???

Nobody woke up this morning and said to themselves, “This would be a great day to
give $10,000 (or $100,000) to my favorite IMPACT organization.”

Tom Suddes ‘OLD GUY’ riffing on CAMPAIGNS, LESSONS, THE MODEL and more.

(Recorded by Tom Suddes)

Take a Quantum Leap

(Recorded by Tom Suddes)
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On Prospects

(Recorded by Tom Suddes)
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How to Ask!

This seminar covers over 20 PHRASES and QUESTIONS we share in our workshops and boot camps. It’s intended to provide very practical nuts-and-bolts examples to help you visualize HOW to ask, whether you’re with a new prospect, board member, or long-time supporter who needs to step up. (Recorded December 17, 2013, Nick Fellers)

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Right click and save to download show notes.

20 Closes

Closes Covered In This Audio

  • 0:00 Greeting
  • 2:08 The Clueless Close
  • 3:37 The Listening Close
  • 6:29 The Higher Level Close
  • 9:56 The Qualifying Close
  • 15:26 The Math Close
  • 19:05 Conversations To Have With Your Board
  • 25:17 The Binary Close
  • 27:37 Holy Audacity
  • 32:39 The Permission Close
  • 34:54 The Goonies Close
  • 38:35 Top Of The Mountain Close
  • 40:59 The Predisposition Close
  • 43:14 The Action Forcing Event
  • 47:14 Practice Close
  • 50:41 The Handful Of People Close
  • 58:15 The Self-fulfilling Prophesy Close
  • 1:00:33 The Momentum Close
  • 1:06:54 Handling Objections
  • 1:14:17 The Transformational Close
  • 1:16:44 Wrap-Up

Right click here to download file for listening offline.

No More Major Gift Officers

Don’t freak out! If you ARE a Major Gift Officer … or have just HIRED a Major Gift Officer … or HAVE multiple Major Gift Officers … THAT’S GREAT!!!

What I’m strongly urging you to do is to CHANGE THEIR TITLE!!!

  • It’s soooooo development-y and fundraise-y!
  • It’s such an insider’s word.

We should wear a sandwich board that says “I’m a MAJOR GIFT OFFICER. I’m coming to ask you for a Major Gift. Get ready.”

Nobody OUTSIDE your organization deals with ‘MAJOR GIFTS.’

Nobody INSIDE even knows what they are.

As always, I challenge you with the ‘NO MORE’ … but offer an alternative SOLUTION.

Change the TITLE of your ‘MAJOR GIFT OFFICERS’ to something that includes the word RELATIONSHIP!!!

  • Could be a CRO: Chief Relationship Officer
  • Could be a RRO: Regional Relationship Officer
  • Could be RDOR: Regional Director of Relationships
  • Could be a CRO: College Relationship Officer
  • Could be just RO: Relationship Officer

The Three Big (Business) Questions

Here are three big questions to think about:


We have worked with a lot of wonderful organizations … especially helping them with their MESSAGE, PRIORITIES and FUNDING PLAN.

IF every one of us and our organizations could answer ‘THE THREE BIG QUESTIONS’… it would help:


These questions are driven by Peter Drucker, Jim Collins, Tom Peters, and others.

Our CHALLENGE for you:


  • WHY are you in business? … is all about your VISION and your IMPACT andyour RAISON D’ETRE.
  • WHAT business are you in? … should be answered at the HIGHEST LEVEL!!! (Drucker’s old line about being in the ‘RAILROAD’ business or in the ‘TRANSPORTATION’ business might help.)
  • HOW does your business work? … is all about your BUSINESS MODEL and your BUSINESS PLAN and your FUNDING/REVENUE STREAMS.

P.S. Collins uses three CIRCLES.



We think this also works.

Let me know if this helps CHANGE THE GAME!

Altitude Awareness

We use an Altitude Framework to order thinking, communications and storylines.

30,000′ The WHY VISION

In sharing this with others, one goal is simply to make everyone aware of 30,000′ and what it means to share the message and story at 30,000’.

People respond to you at whatever level you communicate. So, if you’re at 3,′ talking about where the architects are placing bathrooms, this will frame the conversation. Instead, if you’re at 30,000,′ talking about changing and saving lives… the conversations will be different.

One example: We worked with a well-respected social entrepreneur and Ashoka fellow. A driven individual and true visionary, he gets up every morning trying to change the face of poverty. Whenever he went to make an ‘ask,’ however, the conversation always turned into a debate about the business model (at 14,000′). The Altitude Framework helped him to see why this was happening.

Being an award-winning social entrepreneur, his message had taken shape around ‘doing business in a different way’… about ‘earned income’… about ‘not relying on philanthropy’… about being ‘best in the world at being sustainable.’ Naturally, prospects were engaging him at this level (14,000′). The 30,000′ WHY wasn’t coming through in his message. His story needed to be about being best in the world at changing the face of poverty (30,000′) — first — and then incorporating a different business model (at 14,000′).

The Altitude Framework was a simple tool that made him aware of his 30,000′ message. We’re happy to report his funding conversations changed considerably based on this conscious framing exercise.