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Everything’s a Math Problem

Looking back, I know that almost every successful campaign that we have run in the last 33+ years (500+ Campaigns) was successful because we:

  • Kept in SIMPLE.
  • Had Clear Goals, Numbers and ‘Math.’
  • Measured our Progress, Daily!

For example:

  • How much MONEY (Income) do we need? And over what period of time?
  • How many QUALIFIED PROSPECTS do we need to generate?
  • What does our FUNDING PYRAMID (Gift Chart, 97/3) look like?
  • How many COMMITMENTS do we need to make this happen?
  • How many VISITS do we need to make in a week? A month?
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Your Funding Plan Supports Your Case

A few weeks ago we published “10 Action Steps to Help you Engage in 2016.” Over the next 10 weeks, we are going to use each action step as a week long theme to help you get it done!

This week’s theme is DO THE MATH.

A big epiphany for organizations we work with continues to be – 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 – They haven’t done the math.

Three simple action steps to get you there:

  • Determine the dollar amount you need for both operations and projects. What is the lump sum? 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 and achievable.
  • 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 – Which gives you and your investors confidence.

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 – Something we call “The Clueless Close.”

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Do the Math to Simplify Your Funding Story

A few weeks ago we published “10 Action Steps to Help you Engage in 2016.” Over the next 10 weeks, we are going to use each action step as a week long theme to help you get it done!

This week’s theme is DO THE MATH.

Doing the Math means owning and internalizing an understanding of your numbers. Your numbers tell an important part of your story.

Doing the Math also means taking the time to simplify the numbers in a way that others – Your board, your prospects and your staff – can understand.

In our For Impact World you must:

DO THE ‘BLUE‘ MATH around your Cause and Case and Impact. i.e. How many people/families/students/patients/kids do you impact? Or how many people/families/students/patients/kids NEED this impact?

DO THE ‘RED’ MATH around your Staff, People and Operations.
i.e., What are the people or operational costs associated with delivering your current or desired impact?

And DO THE ‘GREEN’ MATH around your Income, Funding Plan, Goals, etc.
i.e, What is your total need for the year or next 1,000 days based on the BLUE and RED and how will you get there?

Note: Here is a list of questions you can ask your CFO or CEO to get the information you need for math.

Next, use this Math to frame your Funding Rationales. Funding Rationales help to answer your Prospect’s question, “What do you need from me?” and help you get ‘numbers on the table’ tied to a Person, a Program, a Project or a Funding Plan. For example:

A unit of Impact.

One of the simplest ways to do your math is around a Unit of Impact – A Person, A Student, A Family, A Village, A Patient – You get the idea. Quick math:

You can use this math to ask a prospect, “Can you help us by underwriting 10 students this year?” or “How many students would you like to underwrite this year?”

Your Gap, or even better, the cost of EXTRAORDINARY Impact.

Gap math is a common way to do your math and simplify a funding rationale.

 

 

I recently worked with a fantastic Hospice organization who refuses to talk about the gap and instead asks prospects to fund Extraordinary Care for every family. This Hospice has (fluctuating) revenues from reimbursements, but they don’t cover everything. This is where philanthropy comes in – For $1000 you can underwrite Extraordinary Care for one of the 3000 families they serve each year.

The true cost of programs.

This is a big one. Organizations frequently underestimate the true cost to deliver a program, which is essential to a funding rationale. Knowing the real numbers boosts confidence in the ask and helps the funder buy in. You can ask someone to underwrite part or all of the program.

Along with the previous point, you can do the math to tie programming costs to impact in multiple ways. Here’s a clean and simple example to illustrate the concept using the example above. The Read Aloud Program impacts 1600 Kindergarteners and their families (80 classrooms/20 students per class at 40 schools.) You can do the math to create simple funding rationales:

$80,000 to underwrite the program for one year, or;
$2,000 per school, or;
$1,000 per class, or;
$50 per student.

Funding a Project or Priority.

This is commonly used with a ‘campaign mindset’ – projects or priorities that have a larger funding goal than some of the examples above. Casting a vision, packaging up three year Priorities or Projects and then understanding a dollar amount/funding rationale for each.

For example, “As we discussed, our vision is to be there for every family who needs Hospice Care in this community. Part of achieving that plan is to secure a Hospice House where we can care for people who can no longer stay at home, or have no home. Can we talk to you about being part of this plan?”

or

“We’ve put together a plan to scale and innovate in our three core areas – Family Literacy, Read Aloud Programs and Teen Services – that would require $1.3M of the next 1,000 days. Here’s what we would use the funds for – 1000 Families in Literacy Program, increase 1:1 teen Mentoring by 30%, excellent data and evaluation, 5-10 new school relationships…”

(more…)

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The iPhone: A Case for Oversimplifying

When Apple launched the first generation iPhone in 2007 it shared a device that offered full-email, rich media, a web browser, and a phone.

Think about what they chose to call this: a phone (that does really cool stuff!)

Often times working with organizations to simplify – there is a fear that the final concept omits ANYTHING. In one of these standard group setting the original iPhone device would’ve been named the iWebMediaMailPhone!

When explaining WHAT you do, choose words people understand. Anchor the concept and THEN tell me how you’re different, cool, etc. When someone says you’re oversimplifying just point to the late genius Steve Jobs.

P.S. I downloaded the new episode of Sherlock last night. I don’t know if I would call that a TV show, or a movie, but I purchased it through iTUNES. Not the iMediaEverythingCloudStore.

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Find those who care about your CAUSE, then sell your CASE.

A few weeks ago we published “10 Action Steps to Help you Engage in 2016.” Over the next 10 weeks, we are going to use each action step as a week long theme to help you get it done!

This week’s theme is BUILD YOUR FUNDING RATIONALE.

Cause: Your reason for existence. The big problem you’re trying to solve or change.

Case: Your approach. Your model. The way in which you impact the CAUSE.

Think about the the difference between CAUSE and CASE.

When you’re with people that already understand the CAUSE you must engage them with your CASE. (See Use the Rule of 3 to Simplify at 14,000′)

Having a funding rationale answers the question: “Where does the money go?” It’s tied directly to packaging your CASE: Your Priorities and Projects and Programs, around your IMPACT.

The CASE should be all about the WHAT and HOW you will USE FUNDS to deliver your impact.
For example:

“We’ve put together a plan to scale and innovate in our three core areas – Family Literacy, Read Aloud Programs and Teen Services – that would require $1.3M over the next 1,000 days. Here’s what we would use the funds for – 1000 Families in our Literacy Program, increase 1:1 teen Mentoring by 30%, excellent data and evaluation, and 10 new school relationships.”
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Creating Great Funding Rationales

A few weeks ago we published “10 Action Steps to Help you Engage in 2016.” Over the next 10 weeks, we are going to use each action step as a week long theme to help you get it done!

This week’s theme is BUILD YOUR FUNDING RATIONALE.

https://vimeo.com/132943417

In this video we cover the ‘Last 3 Feet’ tied to Creating Great Funding Rationales (hint: “Unrestricted” does not make a great Funding Rationale!)

  • Create a Funding Rationale tied to a Unit of Impact if possible – “Our goal is to underwrite all 3000 of our families each year at $1500 per family. How many families can you help support?”
  • Package up your Programs – “Here is the Impact we’d like to have in each community and it will take about $100,000 per community to make it happen.”
  • Use a Leadership Circle membership goal as it relates to the Opportunity to Save, Change and Impact Lives – “When we have 50 members in our Leadership Society (@$10,000+ per year) it allows us to innovate new programs and provide core support to existing impact. It also allows us to move quickly when needed – To save and change more lives.”

Previous video in this sequence: Using Altitude to develop your Presentation.

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10 Types of Funding Rationales

A few weeks ago we published “10 Action Steps to Help you Engage in 2016.” Over the next 10 weeks, we are going to use each action step as a week long theme to help you get it done!

This week’s theme is BUILD YOUR FUNDING RATIONALE.

Here is a list of some of the framing devices we often use to create Funding Rationales. (i.e., you need these numbers to rationalize the ASK!)

In an abridged form:

  • The Gap: Using a gap number to justify the ASK.
    Tuition: Tuition is $6K, cost per student is $8K. Gap is $2K. Could ask someone to underwrite THE GAP for five students.

    Project: Receive federal grants to the tune of $45K/year for $60K/year program. Ask someone to fund the gap for three years = $15K/year or $45K ASK.

  • The Widget: Break down projects/programs/model into a cost per person or cost per unit. Package this as the ASK. Typically, I use the widget to create the simplest and strongest sell.
    “One child for one year.”

    See also: See Chipotle vs. Max and Erma’s

  • Funding the Prototype: This is a different way of funding your annual operating budget for a start-up. Communicate how your model works and what is needed to make the model happen – then run a funding pyramid.

    Example: This year we need $1.1M to build the prototype.

    Going to need:

    1 @ $200K
    2 @ $100K
    3 @ $75K
    4 @ $50K
    6 @ $25K
    10 @ $10K
  • Funding the Vision: Think of this as funding the model/prototype and future projects/priorities for the next 3-5 years. If you will, this is ‘the campaign pitch’ but with a more holistic view of ALL funding priorities. Within Funding the Vision:

    Leadership Commitments: Top tiered commitments that validate the funding plan.

    Momentum Commitments: TIMELY gifts. Could be Leadership or not… but means so much because of the timing. Provides a lot of leverage, energy, etc.

  • TRANSFORMATION: Justifies all caps on that one. Sometimes it’s simply about a number that would completely TRANSFORM our organization, the investor, etc. This is a rationale that extends far beyond a ‘campaign lead’.
  • Project Sponsorship: “Can you underwrite the medical program for three years @ $30K/year?”

    Note: If it were me… get rid of the notion of asking people to fund ‘operating’ or ‘infrastructure’. Literally everything you do can be packaged as a project, priority or program.

  • Angel Investment: “We’re going to need 10 investors at X to get this idea off the ground. We’re taking something of an angel-investment approach. Can you be one of these angels?” – Very much about timing, the level, the funder, etc.
  • Strategic Partner: Often a corporation or foundation that provides ongoing, high-level funding support on an ongoing basis. It’s a great relationship because you [the org] are a means of delivering on the funder’s priorities in the community or sector.
  • Protection: This is a rationale or way of asking someone to ‘protect’ and annual investment with a planned gift/legacy gift. More on that here.
  • Leverage: We need to raise X to generate 10X.

    Note: Yesterday I was on the phone with an organization that needs to raise $5M to generate $1Billion. To make my point. They need to raise $5M to generate $1,000,000,000,000.

    Obviously, you don’t need all of these. I’m hoping the brief descriptions can spark some answers to common questions like:

    “What do we ask for?”

    “How do we package our operating to justify a big ask?”

    “How do we rationalize the number?”

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How to Create a Funding Rationale Tied to Impact

A few weeks ago we published “10 Action Steps to Help you Engage in 2016.” Over the next 10 weeks, we are going to use each action step as a week long theme to help you get it done!

This week’s theme is BUILD YOUR FUNDING RATIONALE.

Essentially there are three ways to create a funding rationale – the three P’s. You can ask someone to invest in:

A PERSON

It would be more accurate to refer to this final rationale as a ‘unit’ but then I would lose alliteration. You can do the math to figure out the cost to impact one student, one class, one session, one exhibit, one visitor, etc. This could be a total cost or a ‘gap cost.’

A PROGRAM

This could include seed funds to launch a program, sponsorship for a program or gap funding for a program. The cost of the program is set against the impact of the program – You’re selling the impact of the program.

A PLAN

Commonly used with the ‘campaign mindset.’ Cast your vision, attach a dollar amount, articulate a funding plan then ask someone to be a piece of the plan.

You can use one, two or all three – but you must HAVE a simple funding rationale:

“Could you sponsor a classroom? (or 5?)”

“Could you underwrite the program this year and next?”

“Could we ask you to take the lead on this plan?”

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The Only Presentation Tool You Need

A few weeks ago we published “10 Action Steps to Help you Engage in 2016.” Over the next 10
weeks, we are going to use each action step as a week long theme to help you get it done!

This week’s theme is SIMPLIFY YOUR MESSAGE.

Simplify your message so that it fits on a napkin.

It’s not easy. However, I believe that your ability to engage someone with your why, what and how is proportional to how clearly and cleanly you can communicate your message.

This is a really big deal!

When sitting down with someone new they should ‘get it’ in a matter of seconds. Too often we overwhelm people with power points, three-ring binders and slick brochures. I’ve made many ‘million dollar calls’ using ONLY a napkin. I believe it is the BEST and ONLY presentation tool you need.

At the thousands of training and speaking engagements I’ve done, I can spend three straight hours talking, listening, and responding to our Controlling Insight, on a napkin:

Every day, every training, every coaching just reinforces the power of this insight.

*Since I’ve presented this 1,000 times, give or take, and still get ‘juiced’ at the simplicity of this message – doesn’t hurt for you to see it again (and again, and forever, again.)

Just for kicks, see if you can identify these industry changing businesses from the napkins below. Or email with your own napkin – We’re happy to respond, add thoughts, etc.

 

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8 Common Messaging Challenges

A few weeks ago we published “10 Action Steps to Help you Engage in 2016.” Over the next 10
weeks, we are going to use each action step as a week long theme to help you get it done!


This week’s theme is SIMPLIFY YOUR MESSAGE.

Some quick reminders and primers coming into this post:

  • Message is what is HEARD, not necessarily what you SAY. (Read: What’s in a Message?)
  • A potential funder needs to be engaged around the message at three levels – the WHY, the WHERE (money goes) and the HOW (can help – supported by a funding rationale). Read our Altitude Framework PDF for a comprehensive look at this.

Here are eight common messaging challenges we see:

  • The message (engagement) starts at the wrong altitude. Engagement begins at 30,000’ – about changing, saving and impacting lives. A quick assessment of the way most ED’s are talking about the organization and you see that it’s so programmatic (think: 14,000’). We do a lot of coaching to get people up to the 30,000’-changing-the-world-level.
  • No simplicity. Not able to state 30,000’ on a napkin. Not able to communicate three priorities. Not able to articulate a simple funding rationale.

    Special note: One way to simplify your message is through the use of visuals!

  • No engagement. Several times each month I look at an organization’s message and say, “That’s actually pretty damn good! I’ll bet you’re just not ENGAGING anyone with the message.” What I mean is, you don’t need to wordsmith or reframe anything. Instead, you have a message problem in that no one is actually HEARING and INTERNALIZING the message. This could be because we’re not out visiting with or it could be because we’re out talking and not LISTENING. Listening allows us to frame our message in a way that makes sense to the other person.
  • No funding rationale. No math or no story to support ‘the ask’. This is identifiable when we have a funding goal only and we’re either saying, “Can you give?” or we’re just picking a number out of the air. See my earlier post on 9 Types of Funding Pitches.
  • No WOW. Only commentary here is that most organizations DO have a WOW factor. They often don’t see it because they focus on what’s not perfect.
  • Story is not awesome. By this I mean your 30,000’ narrative is not representing your transcendent purpose, your BHAG, your audacity.
  • Framing is about the INCOME. Not the IMPACT. A common 14,000’ example. Whereas we should be communicating how ALL of our funding supports specific projects, priorities and programs we say something like, “We need funds for staff salaries… admin… overhead.” YUCK. You frame everything around your excel spreadsheet and not the PURPOSE or INTENT of the expenditure. Again: Yuck. Another example is the message that’s all about the business plan. WHY do you exist and WHAT do you hope to achieve with said business plan (around the IMPACT).
  • All CAUSE, no CASE. (Or, All PROBLEM, No SOLUTION.) This refers to a message that is heavy on selling me on the problem. So much so that I never really engage with the CASE – either because it’s not there, or because you’ve lost my attention. Note: Hitting all three altitude levels actually makes a simple and complete CASE FOR SUPPORT.
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Use the Rule of 3 to Simplify Your Priorities at 14,000’

A few weeks ago we published “10 Action Steps to Help you Engage in 2016.” Over the next 10 weeks, we are going to use each action step as a week long theme to help you get it done!

This week’s theme is SIMPLIFY YOUR MESSAGE.

Our most used frameworks is the Altitude Framework – Used to order thinking, communications, and storylines; to develop Engagement Tools; and, to think through the Flow of a Visit.

This framework is used for everything from visits to strategy sessions to dealing with objections. However, it’s best use is COMMUNICATION and SIMPLIFICATION of your message.

14,000’ is the view and perspective from the ‘top of the mountain.’ (In the Rockies, they’re called ‘fourteeners.’) At this altitude, the air is thinner and the raptors soar. If 30,000’ is about vision, 14,000’ is about focus. A place to talk about Business Models and Strategy, but most importantly, a place to finding clarity around Priorities.

One of our favorite devices for simplifying your message at 14,000’ is The Rule of 3.

The Rule of 3 is a magical rule for SIMPLICITY.

As human beings, we’re wired to understand, internalize, and remember threes. Politicians know this, as does the media. Neuroscience tells us that the brain actually finds harmony in threes.

One is lonely (no choice.)

Two creates an either/or conflict. (Sophie’s Choice, anyone?)

Not only is Three just right (thank you, Goldilocks) but anything more than three is too complex!

Barry Schwartz’s The Paradox of Choice: Why More is Less tells us stories of engagement DECREASING proportionate to MORE choice.

Look around:

Three-Act Plays. The first act sets up the story, the second act creates conflict, and the third act is the resolution.

The Holy Trinity.

Pyramids. An ancient symbol for strength.

Think BIG! Build SIMPLE! Act NOW! (Can you feel the cadence?!?!)

Today. Tomorrow. Forever.

You can use the Rule of 3 to communicate your biggest Priorities at 14,000’. For example, if you have 7 programs, you need to package those into 3 priorities, such as:

People, Programs, Places
Research, Education, Service
Meals, Homes, Health & Wellness Programs
Read-Aloud Programs, Family Literacy, Teen Intervention

Action: Take the time to write out everything you do on one or two sheets of paper. Then use the attached trigger list to simplify your programs and funding needs into 3 Priorities.

And next time you’re with a prospect you can say, “Over the next 1,000 days we’re focused on these 3 Priorities, which one are you most interested in?”

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Start With The Why

A few weeks ago we published “10 Action Steps to Help you Engage in 2016.” Over the next 10 weeks, we are going to use each action step as a week long theme to help you get it done! This week’s theme is SIMPLIFY YOUR MESSAGE.

Start with the Why is our number one For Impact Guiding Principle.

I came across a brilliant thinker, Simon Sinek, who has a great book, Start With Why, a powerful Ted Video, and an amazing story around the power of ‘WHY.’

The essence of his message:

People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.

He calls it the ‘Golden Circle’.

Mediocre organizations and leaders always sell ‘outside-in’: talking about WHAT, then HOW (features, benefits), and never even getting to the WHY.

Great leaders sell ‘inside-out’ – leading with the WHY.

Sinek’s Golden Circle is our ALTITUDE FRAMEWORK… with research!

Starting with Why has many implications in our For Impact world; here’s a few:

A vocabulary challenge to the sector. What prospects hear (often times) is “We need money to meet our annual funding goal” or “Buy a table at our gala.” These messages have no WHY, but what your prospects want to do is save, change and impact lives.

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 his number one priority, you can ask on the proverbial ‘first date.’

There are 1.5M nonprofits in the U.S. You must be able to talk about your raison d’etre (reason for existence); otherwise, you just ‘exist to exist.’

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