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Everyone knows that R.O.I. is RETURN ON INVESTMENT. In our FOR IMPACT world, when you Change Your Vocabulary… you move from ‘donor/donation‘ to investor/investment. And, as we all know, every investor wants a RETURN on their INVESTMENT.

However, I believe there are two other ‘I’s’ that need a RETURN


Return On Impact is probably more important than Return on the Investment. It’s about the WHY you exist… WHY what you do is important… WHY people should even make an investment.

Return on Income is all about WHAT you do with the money… and HOW you deliver on your promise/vision/impact. Income is not just limited to ‘philanthropy’. It’s all of your revenue streams. (If you get the nuance of this, it is then distinguishable from Return on Investment.)

Obviously, you should be able to convey the RETURN ON all 3 of these I’s.


Happy Veteran’s Day: 11/11/11

Forty years ago (to the month) I was heading to Fort Benning, Georgia, to begin an Infantry Officer Basic Course. I followed that with Airborne, Pathfinder, multiple Leadership Courses… and 18 months as a Tactical Officer at OCS (Officer Candidate School).

Looking back, I cannot imagine a more powerful leadership and life experience.

My brother Mike was a Marine. My dad was a Marine. There’s been a significant number of Notre Dame boxers who served in the military, including a couple who are on the ground in Afghanistan today.

A big ‘SHOUT OUT‘ to all of those in our For Impact world who have served in the military. We appreciate everything that you do and have done for this country.


11/11/11: 1st Day of Rest of Life

This is a great day to COMMIT to CHANGE – to start all the ‘good stuff’ you’ve meant to do (but haven’t).

11/11/11: 1st Day of the Rest of Your Life.

This day will not come again for 100 years! What can you start today (or this weekend) that will dramatically change your life, your career, your business or your organization???

I was with a great team at the University of North Dakota yesterday and today. They are talented, committed and excited about their opportunities.

Yesterday we trained together… today they committed to change together.

Special Note: When I would take my youngest son, Taggart, to school… I would usually say something ‘father-like’ as he got out of the Jeep. One day, I said (again) “Remember, Tag, today is the 1st day of the rest of your life.” He replied, “You told me that last week, Dad. Which is it?”


Attitude Really Is Everything


The ATTITUDE you bring on a visit… the PASSION and ENERGY and ENTHUSIASM (IASM means I Am Sold Myself) that you show about the work that you do and the impact you have… is a gazillion times more important than what you say, your Engagement Tool, your numbers and everything else.


Hope Is Not A Strategy

On my latest trip to Ireland, I was walking down Grafton Street and there were a number of ‘volunteers’ out selling chocolate bars, Butlers Chocolate no less!

The purpose was to aid the HOPE FOUNDATION, who work with ‘street and slum children’.

With complete admiration for what the Hope Foundation is doing, and with absolutely no disrespect whatsoever…


As Rick Page says on the cover of his great book, you need a lot more than ‘HOPE’ to actually FUND YOUR VISION!

Gentle reminder today to DO YOUR MATH and put a self-fulfilling 1,000-DAY FUNDING PLAN together.


A “Cup of Sugar”

I am working with one of the best development people I’ve ever coached. ‘L.B.’ is a sponge. She gets it. And she knows what to do with it.

We were strategizing a recent call on a company that is located, literally, right ‘next door’ to the college. The presentation was for support to help underwrite the cost of the New Campus Master Plan.

L.B. did her normal great engagement/conversation. Then, in a brilliant flash of total authenticity, she said to them, “We are coming ‘next door’ to ‘borrow a cup of sugar’.” (!!!) The company executive loved the analogy and committed $25,000, which was the request. More importantly, it’s the start of a much stronger relationship… ‘like a good neighbor‘.


In the Community vs. Of the Community

We’re working on a project that would launch a proven education and workforce development model in an urban Boston area. The team’s leaders have visited with over 500 stakeholders – including community leaders, families, schools, funders and government officials.

A funder shared that they reason this project appears to be working is that it is ‘of the community’ not ‘in the community’.

In. Of.

World of difference.

In the US (and perhaps globally) we don’t have money problems. We have effectiveness problems. How often have we seen philanthropy or government throw money at a problem without any solution?

For the project in Boston, this has become an important part of the message to funders; I believe we all now understand that whether it be impacting a slum in Kenya, transforming Newark’s schools (see: Putting Zuckerberg’s Millions to Work for Schools) or launching an innovative workforce development center in south Boston that the solution must be OF the community, not IN the community.

Sharing here because I know many of you can use this frame in your work and your message; many of you are facilitating change that is OF the community. Tell that story. Have THAT conversation.


“Always On…”

“In this day and age, people expect access all the time… not when the company (organization) wants to ‘sell’, but when the customer wants to ‘buy’.” (Which is 24/7… ‘always on‘.)

This comes from my friends Kelly and Nancy, who run one of the ‘hottest/coolest’ integrated marketing firms in the world.

Here’s Kelly’s visual:

The ‘On-Off’ Model reminds me of why Traditional Campaigns are so outdated, out moded, out everythinged.

Every organization should be looking at the ‘Always On‘ Model of TODAY | TOMORROW | FOREVER.

[vs. the ‘Feasibility Study/Case Statement/Strategic Plan/Silent Phase/Public Phase/General Phase… Pause 3-5 Years… then Repeat’ Model!!!]



Among the other things, we’re trying to teach people how to listen.

  • Listening doesn’t always mean having to respond.
  • Listening doesn’t always mean having to correct the other person.
  • Listening doesn’t always mean having to incorporate and change your approach based upon the other person’s feedback.
  • Sometimes listening can just be about being quiet and letting the words soak into your head. Sometimes we don’t have to do anything for listening to have a profound impact upon the other person speaking.

    In fact, sometimes it’s more powerful NOT to say anything or simply say, “I hear you.”


“Good Fast Decisions”

“There are no companies that have GOOD SLOW DECISIONS.
There are only companies that have GOOD FAST DECISIONS.”

Larry Page
Google Founder and New CEO

Stop planning, feasabiliting, and jacking(around).
Make a Good DECISION…FAST. Then Execute.


“How big of an impact do you want to have?”

While in San Diego last week I had a chance to have breakfast with Chris M. who was indoctrinated into all this For Impact stuff about two years ago.

I need to write about the broader success story of Chris and the great work they’re doing at Solutions for Change in North San Diego County. For now, I just want to shared a quick nugget.

Chris just finished raising $20 Million in 1.5 years. (Goal was to raise this in 3 years.)

Over breakfast, Chris walked me through how he does the pitch on a blank sheet of paper.

    • He lays out the Problem – very simply.
    • He lays out the Solution, which has 3 parts.
    • And he lays out the Funding Model and the Math. For them to get one family out of homelessness, it costs $22,000 via the Solutions University. One-third of this is paid for by the government, one-third of this is paid by the families and one-third of this is paid for by private supporters.

After Chris lays all this out, he simply asks somebody, “How big of an impact do you want to have?”

I think this goes along with Tom’s note the other day about a client in Colorado that is asking everybody if they would consider a ‘Leadership Gift‘?

What I love about both of these stories is the amazing simplicity of the Ask. The hospital is on its way to raise $90 Million and the Solutions Team just hit a $20 Million mark.

It can be that simple.


3 Big WOWs from Ireland

Just finished a great week in Ireland. 3 straight all-day trainings with amazing people from Business to Arts, One Foundation, Atlantic Philanthropic and Social Entrepreneurs Ireland.

Then, spoke at SEI’s Annual Award Ceremony (followed the leader of Ireland, the Taoiseach!)

Also met with the new Provost (President) of Trinity University and his Foundation/Development Team. I’ve worked with a lot of colleges and universities… but none that were founded more than 400 years ago!!!

Will share more later, but here’s 3 Big WOWs from the training.

    1. ‘WHITE SPACE’. Just because you take something off of the Engagement Tool… doesn’t mean you can’t use it!!!
    It just becomes an Impact Point/Talking Point to be brought out when needed.
    2. SFP. We used 3 Framing Devices for everyone’s Funding Plan:
      The Pyramid. (1, 2, 4, 8, 18 = 33)
      The 3 Circles. (Projects x Cost = Goal)
      The 3 Levels. (e.g. Partner, Sponsor, Angel)
    Then I wrote SFP in large letters… and asked what it meant.
    A wonderful woman (one of my favorites) said, “Simple Freaking Plan.” (She didn’t use “freaking“. It’s Ireland.)
    She was right! It is.
    Mine was Self-Fulfilling Prophecy.
    Both work.
    3. BRILLIANT. The Irish use it for everything! (Even me ). However, as Leo Buscaglia says, “People call me brilliant… because I tell them what they already know.” Same thing here.
    I provided Frameworks and some Coaching, but they had the answers inside themselves.

Big Week. Big Impact. Big Income (to follow, for them).