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Do the math to simplify your funding story.

To me ‘doing the math’ means owning and internalizing an understanding of your numbers. It also means taking the time to simplify the numbers in a way that others (board, prospects, staff) can understand. Numbers tell stories.

DO THE MATH to determine:

  • Your gap. Sell your gap.

    Private schools have a simple gap between the tuition and the cost per student. Schools should ask funders to fund that gap. Example: $1016 per child. Sponsor one child for one year.

    We also do work with a lot of performing arts centers. For round numbers, let’s say box office support makes up 50% of the annual budget. This is a 50% gap. You can package any program and ask someone to fund the gap in that program 50%.

  • The true cost of programs.

    This is a big one. Organizations frequently under-estimate the true cost to deliver a program. Worse, many don’t know, they just pick a number out of the air. The cost to deliver the program (impact) is essential to your funding rationale. Knowing the real numbers boosts confidence in the ask and helps the funder buy into a funding rationale. You can ask someone to underwrite part or all of the program.

  • A funding rationale around impact.

    Along with the previous point, you can do the math to tie programming monies to impact. Clean and simple example to illustrate the concept: Let’s say you have a program that impacts 4th-6th graders at (80 classrooms @ 20 students per class) at 40 schools. You can do the math to create a simple funding rationale:

    • $80,000 to underwrite the program for one year
    • $2,000 per school
    • $1,000 per class
    • $50 per child

    Funders will appreciate your creative packaging to communicate the impact value so long as you’re simplifying (not changing) the math to tell your story.

  • A funding plan (this assumes you have a funding goal).

    I’m still amazed every time I walk into an organization and no one can agree on a funding goal. Without a goal how can you do the math to get to the goal?

    When you’re selling a vision you can also sell ‘the plan’. If it helps, think of a ‘mega-project’ that will require the participation and support of 32 funders. To get one funder on board you will need intelligent and believable math illustrating the funding plan for all 32 funders.

In practice:

For some organizations the math will be clean (like the examples above). Other times it takes a lot of work to make it simple. In writing this piece I quickly reviewed the math for 80 past clients – organizations of every shade and shape – sometimes the math took minutes and sometimes days. However, in EVERY case we were able to get some simple math around a gap, a program, the impact or a plan. It can be done.

Managing the Organization vs. Advancing the Mission

Steve posted a comment on Wednesday to Tom’s post on ‘ No More Boards‘. It’s worth pulling to the top for some Friday thinking

You [boards and staff[ both work for the MISSION. Both boards and staffs can get too focused on “managing” the organization vs. ADVANCING THE MISSION.

WOW. Get a cup of java and think.

Thanks, Steve.

Read Now: The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs

Add this to the list of books I wish I wrote but didn’t: The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs – How to Be Insanely Great in Front of Any Audience.

This is a book about dead simple and inspiring communication… it’s messaging GOLD. Steve Jobs and Apple provide a lens through which to teach you frameworks.

The book reinforces so many For Impact Concepts: Selling at 30,000′, Altitude, Simplicity, Visual Engagement, Finding the Transformational Purpose.

If For Impact were a university this would be required reading for For Impact Communication 101. In class we would discuss how to apply these concepts to the 1:1 selling setting – mostly by setting them in a dialogue context.

From Gallo’s intro:

You will learn how Jobs does all of the following:

  • Craft messages
  • Presents ideas
  • Generates excitement for a product or feature
  • Delivers a memorable experience
  • Creates customer evangelists

To this I would add one superseding bullet: “Changes the world.”

“If you pay close attention to Jobs, you will see that he doesn’t “sell” products; he sells the dream of a better future.” (See Steve Jobs Close)

“The most inspiring communicators share this quality—the ability to create something meaningful out of esoteric or everyday products. Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz does not sell coffee. He sells a “third place” between work and home. Financial guru Suze Orman does not sell trusts and mutual funds. She sells the dream of financial freedom. In the same way, Jobs does not sell computers. He sells tools to unleash human potential. Throughout this book, ask yourself, “What am I really selling?” Remember, your widget doesn’t inspire. Show me how your widget improves my life, and you’ve won me over. Do it in a way that entertains me, and you’ll have created a true evangelist. Along the way, you’ll also discover that Steve Jobs is motivated by a messianic zeal to change the world, to put a “dent in the universe.” In order for these techniques to work, you must cultivate a profound sense of mission.”

So… yeah… you can see why I like the book!

Passionate Advocates & Champions

“I want PASSIONATE ADVOCATES.”

In preparing to facilitate and lead a Board eXperience for an absolutely amazing group of business and community leaders for Junior Achievement in Orlando, I was going over the goals for the day (it was an Annual ‘Retreat’ that was 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. held at Disney World.) The President (Gary B., an experienced and extremely talented For Impact leader) said it this way,

“It’s very simple. I’m looking to have the members of my Board be PASSIONATE ADVOCATES for what we do at Junior Achievement.”

I added the CHAMPIONS. If you think about these three BIG WORDS:

CHAMPIONS, PASSIONATE, ADVOCATES…

it certainly creates the ‘Perfect Profile‘ of a committed, (on) board member.

On Marathon Running: Update II

A quick post about running and the practice of following a CLEAR plan.

I’m trying to run 50 marathons in 50 states. See: Update I.

I ran in the Columbus Marathon this weekend. This brought my tally up to seven states. Just 43 more to go!

The weather and race conditions were perfect – making for my fastest and most enjoyable marathon yet. Growing up and living in Columbus, OH this was also a ‘home course’. It was motivating to see friends, family and familiar terrain.

Marathons represent one of the few areas of our life where progress toward the goal is VERY CLEAR. If you take a step, you’re closer to the finish… it’s that simple. Somewhere around mile 18 or 19 you repeat this mantra over-and-over… it’s the faith in this simplified plan that gets you to the goal.

Obviously, a lot of correlation between this insight and other areas of life. I think this is one of the reasons why many marathon runners are older (when compared to other sporting feats)… as life becomes more scattered with work and family a CLEAR goal and plan (from training to race-day) provides a release.

A marathon is a pretty clear goal: Go 26.2 miles. 16 weeks in advance of a marathon you commit to a CLEAR training plan. If the plan calls for six miles, you run six miles. No thinking. You have a CLEAR goal. This makes it easier to TRUST a CLEAR plan. You then put all your energy into executing.

For me, marathon running offers a way to PRACTICE the art of goal setting, planning and execution… followed by a the celebration!

—-

Special congrats to our For Impact Coach in the northeast, Mike Gemm, for completing his first marathon (Providence, RI) on Sunday

Any runners out there in the For Impact Community? Let’s run a marathon in your state! Let me know. Just can’t be OH, VA, MD, NC, MI, IN or CA :) I will be in the northeast on Nov 6 so thinking about running in the Manchester, NH race on Nov 7.

No More Boards

Last Thursday’s teleseminar and the release of our Guide: ON BOARD(S) triggered a lot of feedback!

Some of it funny. (“Our Board is not just afraid but TERRIFIED of heights. Couldn’t find their way to the top floor of our building even if they were in the elevator.”)

Some of it sad. (“The funding strategy of buying lottery tickets really hurt. It sounds exactly like something my Board would consider as a ‘great idea’ to raise money.”)

One of the best responses was from two superstars in Colorado, Christi-Marie and Rob. They actually challenged the very existence of Boards! (Rob even said I was too ‘soft’ in my presentation. That hurt.)

Here’s what we came up with:

WHAT IFthere weren’t any ‘BOARDS’?

WHAT IF… it was a TABULA RASA? How would we DESIGN the PERFECT, IDEAL BOARD???

Here’s my short answer:

    1. ‘EXECUTIVE BOARD’ GROUP. I would have a five-member Board (since it needs to be an odd number) responsible only for fiduciary matters and for meeting governmental regulations, etc. They would be smart. Have sector expertise in law, accounting and business. Not ‘yes men‘, but collaborative men and women who understood their role and responsibility for the organization.

(more…)

Microsoft’s Language Problem

A short referral today. Read this post from Daring Fireball on message/language/simplicity.

Microsoft on releasing a new phone: 48 words running on.

Apple on the release of the iPhone: “Today Apple is going to reinvent the phone. And here it is.”

FI Master Checklist

Another ’10’ for the week of 10/10/10.

Frank Sullivan, one of Tom’s earliest mentors, used the analogy of the airline pilot always going through his CHECKLIST before every flight, including walking around the plane!

And, as every great coach know, SUCCESS is always a result of executing on the FUNDAMENTALS.

This is the MASTER CHECKLIST we use for ourselves and with our For Impact Coaches… and encourage them to use with their partners/clients. It is a work in progress, but a great way to prepare for your Quantum Leap to a For Impact Organization.

    1. Simplify the MESSAGE. (On a Napkin)
    2. Create POWERFUL STORIES. (The Power of the Story)
    3. Do the MATH. (‘Blue’ + ‘Green’)
    4. Create an ENGAGEMENT TOOL. (Visual. Simple. Purpose/Priorities/Plan.)
    5. Get LEADERSHP ENGAGED. (Champion. Invite. Invest.)
    6. Build a MASTER PROSPECT LIST. (Including the IDEAL PROFILE).
    7. Define your FUNDING MODEL. (Today. Tomorrow. Forever.)
    8. Commit to SALES! (Sales Team. Sales Process. Sales Performance.)
    9. Make 10 VISITS/PRESENTATIONS. (JUST LISTEN! JUST ASK!)
    10. Use Presentation FRAMEWORK & FLOW. (From Authenticity to Present the Opportunity.)

We believe this MASTER CHECKLIST works for just about every For Impact Organization, from a ‘GAZELLE’ (start-up, ready to scale and grow) to a ‘GAZILLION’ (large orgs looking to make the next leap).

*If you need help or coaching on any of these 10 Actions, let us know. It’s what we do.

97% of the funds come from 3% of the prospects

We’ve worked with some 5000 organizations over the past 25+ years — if you include the thousands that have attended Boot Camps and signature trainings. We see that 97% of the funds for any organization come from just 3% of that organization’s ‘family’.

I believe this number would be closer to 99:1 but so many organizations spend their time, energy and effort focusing (disproportionately) on the 97% that make up only 3% of the funds.

Where are you spending your time? Where can you get the most return-on-energy?

Sometimes people want to point me to organizations like NPR and Salvation Army — as if to challenge this point. One answer: Joan Kroc. She committed $200M and $1.5B to these organizations, respectively.

Download Guidebook: How to Create Powerful Board Engagement

Tom has just finished a For Impact Guide ON BOARD(S).

This short 35-page monograph is meant to be a quick read and provide motivation, as well as a ‘how to’.

ON BOARD includes nuggets like:

  • The Transformative Idea for every organization

  • On ‘THE’ Board vs. ‘On Board’
  • A Change in Vocabular
  • A Framework for Board Engagement
  • The Funding Role of the Board
  • A Board Roadmap

We’re focusing on providing more board solutions – people frequently ask about ways to share the For Impact Point of View with boards.

This guidebook is a great start. Download for free through Nov 15.

Confidently Answer Any Curveball Question with the Rule of 3

Here is a framing device to help you answer any question in a calm and confident manner. It’s called The Rule of 3.

The Rule of 3 is simply the framing of THREE things to simplify a concept.

Yesterday a coaching client described a ‘tough question’ received from a board member about an upcoming project. In response to a plan about expanding into three new cities the board member asked, “How EXACTLY how the funds will be used in each of those three cities?”

The organization has a complete business plan that details every penny for each city. However, it would’ve been too vague to say, “Yes, we a complete business plan… it’s here in 40 pages.” So the ED froze.

Now that the ED has The Rule of 3 in her bag of tricks! She can simplify 40 pages on-the-fly by limiting herself to three bullet points. With the Rule of 3 the ED tried her first impromtu response, “Yes Nick… all the funds will be used to do these three things. 1) Purchase the curriculum 2) Provide Training and 3) Deliver ongoing assistance to partner organizations).”

Simply by summarizing the 40 pages in three bullet points the ED delivered confidence and clarity in her response.

The Rule of 3 is a magic framing device. Studies have shown that we as humans are wired to receive and remember three’s. Four bullet points seems like ‘too much’ and two seems like ‘not enough’.

Action: I want you to think about a tough question you’ve received in the past few weeks. Force yourself to go back and answer the question by saying:

  • “Yes, it comes down to three key objectives….”
  • “There are three goals we’re looking to achieve…”
  • “There are three parts to the answer…”

You will sound confident in your answer. You will be more confident in your answer. The person asking the question will be impressed by your answer — often saying, “Wow, you really have this down!”

Also, observe the Rule of 3 in action with any great speaker, marketer or politician. Now that you’re looking for it… it will appear EVERYWHERE!

Tom first shared the Rule of 3 with me about ten years ago. It’s since proven time and time again to be the most powerful framing device there is because 1) It’s simple 2) Easy to use and 3) Humans are hard wired to positively receive groups-of -threes.

10/10/10

Yesterday was definitely a ‘TEN’!!!

10/10/10! It doesn’t happen very often. (Like every 100 years.)

It seems like a perfect time to reflect on your PRIORITIES and your FOCUS for the remainder of 2010!

Not trying to out-Top 10 Letterman, but here our TOP 10 IDEAS… for the next 10 WEEKS!!! (Three remaining weeks in October. Four weeks in November. Three weeks in December… and then the holiday!)

10 IDEAS… IN 10 WEEKS… BEFORE THE END OF 2010!

    1. Create your own 10-Week ACTION PLAN for the rest of 2010.
    What are your priorities? Where can you concentrate your efforts for the highest return? What are the 10 things you really, really want to get done in 2010 that will make this one of the best years ever? (Regardless of what you’ve done to date.)
    2. Focus on your TOP 10!!! Make a commitment, in writing, to your peers, in blood… to VISIT with your Top 10 Prospects in the next 10 weeks!!! (C’mon. It’s one visit a week!) Your org will literally be TRANSFORMED if you have a conversation/dialogue with you best 10 CHAMPIONS (Prospective Investors) in the next 10 weeks.
    3. Commit to change your CULTURE by end of 2010!!! Now is actually the perfect time (perfect storm?) to make the CHANGES that you know are necessary for a Quantum Leap in 2011. No kaizen. No tweaks. MASSIVE ACTION. MASSIVE CHANGE. MASSIVE RESULTS. (more…)