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Omidyar’s ‘Hybrid Model’ For Impact

I just read a great article in HARVARD BUSINESS REVIEW this morning by eBay’s Founder, Pierre Omidyar on “Innovating the Business Model of Social Change”.

It HBR’s words:

The Idea: Omidyar was inspired by eBay’s social impact (!) to create a hybrid model for his philanthropic Omidyar Network: a combination of nonprofit and for-profit.”

WOW. Take a moment and read the article. Filled with all kinds of great nuggets including:

    “Many people don’t distinguish between charity and philanthropy, but to me there’s a significant difference.”
    *Omidyar says that “Philanthropy is much more. It comes from the Latin for ‘love of humanity’.” I think the Greek meaning for philanthropy is ‘friend of mankind’. Same thing. He goes on to say that “Philanthropy is a desire to improve the state of humanity and the world. It requires thinking about the root causes of issues.”
    “I began looking for ways to harness the incredible power of business in order to make the world better.”
    • He talks a lot about the challenge to structure his organization properly since it was funding both nonprofits and for-profits.
    “Today there’s a name for people who make investments that can produce
    both impact (!) and profit: IMPACT INVESTORS (my bold caps).”
    • He talks a lot about their focus on microfinance and allowing the “poorest of the poor to start enterprises and take advantage of educational opportunities”. (He acknowledges that microfinance has come under a lot of scrutiny but also talks about all the ‘good’ that microfinance has accomplished.)
    “In the past few years we’ve learned that to have the biggest impact (!), you need the right capital structure and the right leaders.”
    • Finally, here’s his ‘close’: “One of the biggest things I’ve learned in more than a decade of this work is that you really can make the world better in any sector—in nonprofits, in business, or in government.
    It’s not a question of one sector’s struggling against another, or of ‘giving back’ versus ‘taking away.’ That’s old thinking.
    A true philanthropist will use every tool he can to make an IMPACT (again my bold caps). Today business is a key part of the equation, and the sectors are learning to work together.”



The Big Idea: Hope Is Not A Strategy

*(Nor is it ‘stratergy’) Take the time necessary to do the required DISCOVERY (aka, research, knowledge base, etc.) Do a high-level STRATEGY of the RELATIONSHIP and the PRESENTATION (VISIT) itself.

We’ve broken down this STRATEGY component into three areas:


As my mentor Frank Sullivan reminded me so many times… even very, very experienced airline pilots, with thousands and thousands of hours of flight time, ALWAYS go through their ‘PRE-FIGHT CHECKLIST’!!! This even includes walking around the airplane just to make sure nothing is falling off!

Here are the templates (frameworks) for each of these 3 areas…

Feel free to adjust, edit, improve or customize. However, I would urge you to utilize these 3 CHECKLISTS for every one of your top prospects!!!


Visit Prep: Plan YOUR Questions More than the Prospect’s

We recently started working with a national education reform organization. We’re structuring a sales system and process on the national level. We’re also providing coaching/training to regional executive directors. Over time, we’ll have a simplified sales system, a cohesive funding culture and a developed team that generates more revenue, more effectively (greater return-on-energy).

I had a first call with John one of the regional ED’s. He was prepping for a site visit from a major foundation as part of the foundation’s grant making process.

John asked, “What questions do you think she [program officer] will ask that I could prepare for?”

My response: “In terms of strategy, I’m much more concerned about what questions YOU will ask.”

We came up with these power questions to engage and learn from the program manager:

    1. “Obviously, I’m familiar with your guidelines but would you mind bringing me up to speed on the foundations key priorities?”

    There’s alignment already or the program manager wouldn’t be making a visit. Let’s get a sense of the foundation’s vocabulary and priorities.

    2. “We’ve submitted grant applications in the past. This was the first one to make it to the site visit stage. What caught your eye this time?”

    The grant narrative was 15 pages in length!!! No way to know what the heck foundation was interested in. Theory of change? Education reform? The schools in which we worked? The programming officer’s answer is pretty important on this one.

    3. The grant was a one-time grant for $75K. Foundations (like any of us) want relationships, partnerships and a return-on-investment. Advised John that if things were going well to ask, “Would it be possible to look at this as a three-year partnership? In other words, how do we talk about helping us with this impact for this year and the two years after?” I guarantee the foundation’s already thinking bigger picture anyway – let’s ASK the question! Let’s have the dialogue.

    Also gave John a really authentic line, “Of course, we would love to explore that but forget I even asked if it makes this request muddy.”

    4. And a get out of jail card: If for some reason the program manager starts to go down the well-we-don’t-fund-that-route, bring the conversation back up to 30,000′. “At the highest level we see to be in strong alignment around what we’re doing. How do we structure a request in a way that makes sense for XYZ foundation?” Then just be quiet; you will get the roadmap you need.

I think John’s first inclination – to focus on HER questions – should be resolved using the Messaging Framework. It addresses 95% of the questions ever asked by any funder. You should then engage with questions to tailor that message to the prospect.


Best Practices vs. Next Practices

I was re-reading a great book for entrepreneurs called MAVERICKS AT WORK by Bill Taylor and Polly Labarre. (Bill was Co-Founder and Founding Editor of Fast Company, one of my favorite, favorite magazines; and Polly was eight years as Senior Editor there.)

I came across a powerful line about ‘Best Practices’ vs. ‘Next Practices’. My own interpretation of this thinking fits our For Impact Point of View and Methodology.

In many cases, ‘Best Practices‘ are ‘Old Practices‘ that have worked in the past… and people are able to point to them as a reason for results.

As stated in ‘MAVERICKS‘, ‘Next Practices‘ become more about “insights and a business plan for the 21st Century… a new way to lead, compete and succeed”.

Just last week, we were asked, again, “We just want to know what are the ‘Best Practices’ used in Development and Fundraising.”

In my old Tom Peters’ style, I would respond, “There aren’t any.” In my new, mellower, coaching style, I would respond, “There are certainly SOME Best Practices. However, it’s all about the NEXT PRACTICES that are going to make the difference.”

Impact Driving Income. Strong Message and Purpose and Vision. The Today | Tomorrow | Forever Holistic Model. A Great Sales Process. Ridiculously Simple Engagement Tools. Talent That Can Sell. And on and on.

If what you are about is scaling and growing your IMPACT. If you are about your Vision. If you are about the future. If you are about Funding that Vision.

Then, you should be looking at NEXT PRACTICES.


Running Contrary with Speed and Simplicity

I received a call from Kevin, a past client with 20+ years of funding experience. Kevin completely changed his organization’s approach to fundraising after working with For Impact three years ago. He streamlined its approach and message. The organization cut down on all the events, it started making a lot more asks, and it started generating a lot more revenue.

His words:

I still tell everyone I meet about For Impact… that’s it’s the real deal. For whatever reason, I think most people [in the funding biz] can’t comprehend what I’m saying.

I think the entire industry and all the trainings perpetuate this idea that our job is to be friends with everyone. Instead of focusing on selling, fundraisers try to think up more and more ways to be friends.

I’m always telling everyone about For Impact… about how it changed our outlook… focused us on results… all the while making STRONGER relationships.

People can’t comprehend a lot of the things you teach:

  • That it’s okay to ask without a board member.

  • That it’s okay to ask on a first visit.
  • That you can actually share everything you need to share from one piece of paper.
  • That it can be this simple.


O3 and O3 Culture

I’m working with a bright, talented (interim) VP of Advancement at a great college.

She and I were talking about a new culture… and she defined it as an Out Of Office!

If you’re in SALES (which we are)… and you want to raise as much INCOME as you can (which we do)… and you want the greatest RETURN on your ENERGY and TIME (which, of course, we do)… then you need to build an OUT OF OFFICE culture.


Results or Reasons?

“In life there are only 2 things, results and reasons. Successful people have lots of results and unsuccessful people have lots of reasons.”

This is from Keith J. Cunningham, mentor to Robert Kiyosaki, RICH DAD POOR DAD author.

Via For Impact Coach, Mike Gemm.

Are you about RESULTS or REASONS (excuses)?


Start With Why

I came across a brilliant thinker, Simon Sinek, who has a great book, Start With Why, a powerful Ted Video (18 minutes), and an amazing story around the power of ‘WHY’.

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).. 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!

And, it’s a perfect reinforcement of the FOCUS of our ENGAGEMENT TOOL.

I urge you to take 18 minutes out of your day/life and watch the video. I believe it will influence the entire way you sell, Share your Story and Present the Opportunity.


What Does ‘An Ask’ Look Like? A Checklist.

There is a lot of room to define this one… you should take the time to define it within your organization.

In the For Impact world A REAL ASK satisfies this checklist:

  • We were WITH a prospect – physically.

    See: Just Visit. There are exceptions to this but 19 times out of 20 the ask is done in person so that there is engagement and dialogue.

  • We asked the prospect for specific help with a specific project, program or level of support.

    In doing so the dollar figure was clear. Example: “John, we need your help, would it be possible for you to underwrite this project for $20,000?”

    It wasn’t open-ended, we didn’t ask, “Could you give whatever you can give?”

    Also, in being specific, the funding rationale wasn’t for ‘unrestricted’ or ‘operations’… those aren’t specific. See: Have a Funding Rationale – Something specific to ask for.

  • The ask was a dialogue – a back and forth with questions and listening — so that we could ensure that we were maximizing the relationship at this given moment.

    Read: The Ask as a Dialogue to help with this concept.

  • We will expect a YES or a NO – and will follow-up accordingly.

    Thinking about how to get to a YES or NO ensures you have covered appropriate mechanics and you can continue within a sales process. Otherwise, there is a risk of pending into oblivion or unclear follow-up.

Without the definition provided by this checklist we often find:


No More ‘Meetings’. (Period.)

A fun challenging thought for a Tuesday.

WHAT IF… we never held another ‘meeting’!!??

Political consultant and pundit James Carville says,“Losers meet. Winners do.”

He goes on to say that, “Absent a major peace negotiation, complicated merger or complex legal settlement… there is no reason on earth to have a meeting last more than 30 minutes.”

After 35 years in the ‘business world’, I’m convinced that nobody really wants to go to another ‘meeting’ (except for maybe the meeting planner or the boss who is holding the meeting).

Luckily, I’m at an age where I can just say no… I don’t do ‘meetings’.

A suggested alternative: ‘GATHERINGS.’ Instead of a ‘meeting’, try a ‘GATHERING’ of the right people at the right time on the right subject… to brainstorm, re-design or correct course.

Imagine what life would be like without meetings, but where you gathered together in a fun, productive session with real results!

These ‘GATHERINGS’ need:

    1. Great Prep. Send appropriate info out in advance. Don’t go over it all at the meeting! (It’s Prep.)

    2. Specific Goal. The meetings should have a specific purpose… an action/result.

    3. Defined Time. 33 minutes is a great constraint!

Here’s a better idea: Go for a walk! It worked for Leonardo da Vinci and Thomas Edison. It will also work for you.