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Breaking News … IRS Eliminates 501c(3) Not-For-Profit Designation!!!

IRS Eliminates 501c(3) Not-For-Profit Designation!!!

The Internal Revenue Service has abolished their 1913 law that permits organizations to designate themselves as NOT-FOR-PROFITS.

“This designation is contrary to all other industries, as it is the only one defined in the negative. In our usual show of logic and common sense, the IRS has eliminated this designation in the hopes that all ‘charities’ and ‘tax-exempt’ organizations will now focus on their IMPACT.” — An IRS Agent (who asked not to be identified)

Feds Make Doing Special Events (for Fundraising Purposes) a Felony!

The Federal Government has ruled that there will be no more golf outings, galas and other special events that are not special and not events. *Signature Events and Memorable Experiences will still be allowed and encouraged.

“This was the only way we could eliminate all of the events that were sucking up our time and energy and resources … with no real impact on our impact. Now I can blame the government when I tell our volunteers that we will no longer be holding Mostaccioli dinners or selling holes and tables for the golf outing.” — 1,840 Development Officers



Stop Fundraising and Start Selling Your Impact


STOP talking, thinking, acting as a fundraiser, focused on fundraising. And don’t even go there with its cutesy cousin, ‘friendraising’. (See No More Cultivation.)

“Mama don’t let your babies grow up to be… fundraisers.”

She’d rather see you be a cowboy. Fundraising has a reputation slightly south of used car sales. Why even go there?


Remember, the big epiphany goes like this:

IMPACT DRIVES INCOME … Not the other way around.

the SIZE & SCOPE of your INCOME.

Don’t be normal. Define your purpose. Get a plan. Do it with enthusIASM. (I Am Sold Myself.)


The Presentation Framework

The are three key components to a great presentation: Engagement, Discovery and Authenticity.


The ‘green’ ENGAGEMENT word is there to remind all of us that our goal on the visit is to get people ENGAGED – in a dialogue, about them, about you, and about the opportunity you both have to save, change, and impact lives.


Asking questions is the best way to do DISCOVERY. It is the best way to create ENGAGEMENT and an absolutely marvelous way to be able to PRESENT THE OPPORTUNITY!

Here are 3 quick tips on how to be a great listener:

  • Focus. Actually sit up, and engage with your eyes and ears as you focus on exactly what the prospect is saying.
  • Get people to tell their story. This is even better than you sharing the story about impact. Let them tell you why they find meaning in your impact or organization. Nothing you say can trump their ‘WHY.’
  • Take notes. In my mind, this is a great way to show respect, show that you’re listening, and show that you care. The best thing about notes for me is that it helps me focus on listening, and then when the prospect is finished I can refer back to the notes and quotes.

    *It’s also a great way to capture as much of the visit as you can for the Memo for the Record, which, of course, you are going to complete as soon after the call as possible.

For even more, read the article 8 More Steps to Positive Listening Skills!



We like to tell our Boot Camp attendees, “If you’re authentic, you can’t screw it (the visit, the conversation, the ask) up!”


Simply put, it’s being SINCERE!

The people you’re with know right away whether you’re ‘selling snake oil’ or SINCERELY PRESENTING AN OPPORTUNITY that has VALUE to both the GIVER and the RECEIVER!

I read 30 years ago (in Denis Waitley’s Seeds of Greatness) that the word SINCERE means “without wax” (in Latin, sine = without, cera = wax). Ancient sculptors would ‘fix’ any flaws or mistakes that they made in the marble by filling in the mistake with wax.

You can only be you. So go without the wax!


You Need to Find a Way to Boot Camp – And Here’s Why

You (or your new hire, board member, development director) need to find a way to get to Boot Camp. And here’s why:

It will change everything for you and your organization. The reason Boot Camp has such a huge impact on organizations is because we’re not just trying to make you a better charity or increase your annual fund by 10% – we’re teaching you how to be something completely different, to think bigger, and get bigger funding results.

It’s not a normal training. Boot Camp is chock-full of practical stuff. You’re building tools, developing strategy, and doing/thinking the entire time! Don’t expect two days of lecture and power points (you will be very disappointed). [Yes, you will have to do one practice visit and many ‘rehearsals’ at Boot Camp. A little trust on this one? It’s way better to learn here than with your best prospect.]

Results. You don’t want training; we know that. What you want is money, to get out of the rat race, to learn ‘the secret’. Boot Camp is designed to be both a stepping stone for transformation and a way to generate money for your organization in the next 100 days.

It works. We are out there every week and we will share lots of stories from the field to reinforce our points. Boot Camp drills (and drills) on fundamentals for your organization and for each individual who attends. Tom started Boot Camp as an alternative to ‘consulting’ and to create a tool with incredible value. He wanted to scale our impact by giving everyone an accelerated way to get different results, based on 30 years in-the-field.

It doesn’t cost any money. If you say it’s not in the budget, then you’re right. But if you want to think like an entrepreneur, then this is the place for you. Reallocate money and then use the ROI to provide budget relief wherever needed. UNDERWRITE this as a SOLUTION. Some suggestions from recent attendees:

Use money from a ‘marketing budget’.

Have someone ‘underwrite the training’ – as a guaranteed investment.

Put the training on a credit card and pay it off in 30 days with new gifts. (I love this one.)

Boot Camp is the best resource we can recommend. This solution helps everyone who attends.

We’ve extended our Early Bird pricing for April camp until this Thursday, April 2.

More info and registration here.

We also have a session in June (more here).



Use Predisposition and Perseverance to Get the Visit

Getting a visit is both an ATTITUDE and a SKILL. There’s a ‘SYSTEM’ to it.

Getting a visit is all about: PREDISPOSING … QUALIFIED PROSPECTS … to take your phone CALL … and ultimately VISIT with you. I’ve included action steps, strategies, and tips to help you make it happen.

We are professionals. We do not make COLD CALLS! We always PREDISPOSE the prospect/potential investor. We first predispose a potential investor to our phone call to set up the visit, and then we predispose to the visit/ presentation itself (and yes, we even predispose to the follow-up).

The word PREDISPOSE means to make someone inclined, in advance, to a specific action or attitude. You need to be literally (not figuratively) be predisposing potential investors to expect your contact and look forward to visiting with you about your amazing organization.


The Goal


The goal of predisposition is simple: GET THE VISIT! It is NOT to ‘sell on the phone’!

A really strong predisposition e-mail or letter makes the follow-up phone call very assumptive/ presumptive!

“I’m following up on the note that you received from (Natural Partner) and I’d like to see if you might be available next Tuesday morning? Or would Wednesday afternoon be better?”

Consider having someone else set up the visit! I know this is somewhat sacrilegious to many people, but I’ve found it to be the single most effective way to get visits. This is especially important if you are full-time Development Officer/Major Gift Officer/Chief Development Officer with a portfolio. You should be making presentations, not setting up visits.

In the predisposition note, the sender/Natural Partner closes with these very important words: “I have asked Mary Smith from our development team to follow-up with you to set up a visit.”

A phone call from your CEO/President’s Assistant is one of the absolute best ways to get a visit.

The easiest way for the Campaign/Foundation Team of a well-respected hospital to
get a visit with their top prospects is to do a simple predisposition email from the CEO, and then ask her wickedly competent and talented assistant does a follow-up phone call to set the visit. The assistant already knows knows all of the CEO’s relationships, and has great existing interaction with both the prospects and their assistants (gatekeepers).



Maximize Relationships at This Given Moment


This is one of my favorite ‘soap box’ platforms. As a gardener and faux-farmer, I know ‘cultivation’ is when you spread manure on plants!

Think about it from the other side for a second. No one wants to be CULTIVATED.

They either get your Message and Impact or they don’t. They want to support your Cause and your Case or they don’t. Your Qualified Prospects/Investors truly do want to help, but they don’t want to have a multitude of meetings before they’re even told what it is that you actually WANT from them.


Many of you are waiting for the ‘perfect time’ to make your ‘BIG’ request. The ‘perfect time’ to MAXIMIZE a RELATIONSHIP is always NOW… AT THIS GIVEN MOMENT!

MAXIMIZING RELATIONSHIPS could be an invitation to join a Leadership Group, President’s Circle, Impact Circle, etc. It could be Presenting an Opportunity to Leave a Legacy Gift. Or, it may be ‘THE’ moment … for ‘THE’ Gift … that truly TRANSFORMS your organization.

Remember: You’re in SALES. Get over it. Go ‘sell’ your Vision, your Ideas, your Priorities, Projects and Programs. Now.


No More Feasibility Studies


Having watched hundreds (maybe even thousands) of nonprofits do feasibility studies, I still don’t get it!

  • Internal staff get together and agree they need more money.
  • An internal group decides to do a campaign to raise more money.
  • Internal leaders enlist external consultants to do a feasibility study for justification, CYA, and backup.
Consultant conversation with a prospect goes like this: “If XYZ nonprofit org were to do a hypothetical campaign with a hypothetical goal, how much hypothetical money would you hypothetically give to this hypothetical campaign?” (UGH!)




Instead of feasibility, think ‘Leadership Consensus Building.’ Get your TOP STAKEHOLDERS INVOLVED in BUILDING the PLAN – for both IMPACT and INCOME!!!

This OWNERSHIP will translate into a HUGE RETURN on the time, energy and resources you INVEST in this process.

I’ve chosen these 3 words carefully, and have used this process effectively for the last 20 years:

  • LEADERSHIP. It is what it is. It is what it says. Engage your best leaders in this process of message clarification, prioritization, and funding planning.
  • CONSENSUS. Consensus is about the right decision, NOT (necessarily) about unanimous agreement on a politically correct, watered-down, something–for–everyone plan. Consensus (on Purpose/ Priorities/Plan) creates commitment, generates momentum, and forces engagement (vs. passive participation).
  • BUILDING. This is the kicker. This is the action word that makes this idea worth millions!!! You must provide a framework to let your stakeholders help BUILD THE PLAN!!!

This approach also serves as ‘THE’ most powerful form of PREDISPOSITION, since it answers one of the 3 most Frequently Asked Questions, “WHO DECIDED WHERE THE MONEY GOES?” with an emphatic, “YOU DID!”


Start Creating Memorable Experiences



And, they’re not ‘EVENTS!’ They rarely generate income anywhere close to the corresponding staff and volunteer effort and time. If you really think anyone in your organization wants to work for ‘EVENTS-R-US’ or do one more ‘GOLF OUTING’, ‘STAR BAZAAR’ or BINGO, you need to get out of your office (and out of your dream world!) and talk to your stakeholders!

P.S. Not only do your volunteers and staff hate these Non-Special Events, so do all of the ‘INVITEES’ … who clearly don’t want to go to another ‘un-memorable, time-away-from their-family’ auction, gala, ‘fundraiser’!!!



They’re more IMPACTFUL. More FUN. More PRODUCTIVE. A ‘MEMORABLE EXPERIENCE’ is about your Vision, your Message, your Impact. It’s not about raising money, selling tables, golf holes or silent bids. Every ‘MEMORABLE EXPERIENCE’ is an incredible PREDISPOSITION OPPORTUNITY to create the perfect FOLLOW-UP. (Something that never happens after a Non-Special Event.)

Nota Bene: If you don’t know the ‘difference’ between a ‘Special Event’ and a ‘MEMORABLE EXPERIENCE’ , think about the difference between a one-ring, carnival CIRCUS with two clowns, an elephant, some monkeys and an old lion … and CIRQUE DU SOLEIL!!! Enough said.


Engage, Mav, Engage!

In our world, (just so there is no confusion):


Andy Grove, of Intel fame, has a 3 word battle cry that changes everything,


Newton’s Law states,

“A body in motion tends to stay in motion.
A body at rest tends to stay at rest.”

I’m no physics major, but I get this: ENGAGE means GET IN MOTION!!!

You can hide under your desk because of the economy, fear, call reluctance, whatever.

OR, you can buy into our IMPACT DRIVES INCOME insight and epiphany:

More VISITS (with Best Prospects) means…
More PRESENTATIONS (to Share the Story/Present the Opportunity) means…
More MONEY (to Fund the Vision) means…
More INCOME means…
Much more IMPACT.

Go Forth and ENGAGE!

Read more in our For Impact Guidebook: On Engagement


The Funding Role of the Board: Champion, Invite, Invest

Every single Board that we have worked with, without exception, has a very fuzzy and ill-defined ROLE for their Board vis-à-vis INCOME.

One of the very best Executive Directors I’ve ever worked with actually told me that her Board’s ‘funding strategy’ was to buy LOTTERY TICKETS! It would be funny . . . if it wasn’t true.

Here’s what the ROLE of the Board should be in an IMPACT -> INCOME culture:

  • CHAMPION… the CAUSE and the CASE.
  • INVITE… others to get INVOLVED and ENGAGED.

Specific Board Members are also a critical part of your SALES TEAM! They can help get the visit, predispose the visit, possibly join you on the visit, and definitely help follow-up after the visit.

Some thoughts to help you and your Board better understand these 3 big words.

  • CHAMPION. The power of this word is that everyone can and should know what it means to CHAMPION your organization, your CAUSE, and your CASE. When you present these 3 roles to your Board, if there are any Board Members who are reluctant to CHAMPION your organization, they need to be removed immediately. (Call security and have them escorted from the building.)
  • INVITE. Your Board Members and Champions need the opportunity to INVITE others to become INVOLVED and ENGAGED in your Impact. Just imagine if you went to your Board and said, “We do not want you asking people for money! We need you to INVITE a qualified prospect to a tour or memorable experience.” This is 100 times better than asking them for names!

    One of the best ways we’ve found to execute on this role is with specific membership opportunities. Let them INVITE prospects to join the President’s Circle or a Legacy Society. Then they get MEMBERS… not MONEY!

  • INVEST. The ‘COMMENSURATE’ word changes everything! Every single Board Member/Champion should make an investment (in time, energy, money) that is COMMENSURATE with their relationship, capacity, and involvement with your organization.

Special Note: ‘INVEST’ has nothing to do with Board Members ‘giving or getting $10,000’. Nothing to do with ‘time, treasure and talents’ from the 1950’s.

A $250 gift from one Board Member could be both commensurate and sacrificial. A $1 Million gift from another Board Member could be neither commensurate or anywhere near a sacrifice.

This COMMENSURATE strategy allows you to take a Board Member who is a $10,000 (commensurate) investor on a visit to present the opportunity to a $1 Million investor.

We realize (from a lot of comments and feedback from our For Impact audience) that many Board Members have been told very specifically that they did not have to give money to be on the Board. We still strongly believe that you should have this discussion with your Board around their ROLE, including the ‘INVEST with a COMMENSURATE COMMITMENT’ point.

Why? Because it’s all about the IMPACT. If they believe (CHAMPION), they should both INVITE and INVEST.

The following is a direct quote from a ‘feasibility study’ conducted by a very old and well-respected consulting firm (with our caps):

The Board must feel charged with the BURDEN of the fundraising campaign‘s success.

Trustees are expected to give SACRIFICIALLY.

BURDEN. SACRIFICE. Is it no wonder that your Board Members are not enthusiastically and passionately engaged in your fundraising and your campaigns?

Read more about The Role of the Board in our Guidebook: On Boards.


Celebrate your Birth DATE!

Today is our Founder, C.S.O. (Chief Spirit Officer), and resident Old Guy’s birthday!

For 40 years (or more) Tom has encouraged every young person, old person, fundraising professional, social entrepreneur, etc., that he has come across to adopt one very effective habit for success and life balance. Tom uses his birth date (the 19th of every month) as a reminder to get some solo time – write goals, reflect on goals, celebrate – just take that one day a month to focus on yourself and you will be more effective in all areas of life.

In his honor, were are sharing some of Tom’s most inspirational words about why you should celebrate your Birthday and your Birth Date! Share this idea on social media and (1) tell us how you celebrate your birth date and (2) leave a birthday message for Tom.

Here’s a great goal/challenge: Make your BIRTH DATE a special day for YOU!

  • Do something solo. (Breakfast or coffee shop, with a journal or a book. A motorcycle or bike ride. A yoga class. Something… Alone.)
  • Then, do something special with those you love. (Spend a little time with the g-kids. Catch up with a sib or a child away from home. Have lunch with the ‘girls’ or a beverage with the ‘boys’.)
  • Do some serious journaling.
  • Do a monthly review of your goals (lifetime, this year, upcoming 90 days, etc.) and to set an Action Plan for next 30 days.
  • Take your BIRTH DATE ‘off’ – Whatever that means to you. Yes, most people will laugh or scoff at this suggestion, but if you can’t set aside even one day for yourself, once a month… things are pretty screwed up. (Note: If you can’t take your Birth Date ‘off’, surely you can take your actual BIRTHDAY off!)

Big Idea: Spend one on one time with your kids on their Birthdays! When my 5 kids were growing up, we would do special Birthday Breakfasts where we would write down goals, best friends, favorite books and movies, etc. I still have all of their thoughts captured in a special ‘Green Book’. It’s great to look back at ‘goals‘ from a 5 or 10 or 17 year old.

Note: You’re seeing a special sneak peek of our very own For Impact Font, ‘OG’, on the napkin above. Our phenomenal designer, Matt, has painstakingly scanned and cleaned up an entire alphabet, taken from Tom’s actual journals over the past 40 years. We’ll be rolling this font out in the coming months but wanted to share our excitement with a preview for our Tribe!