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Just ASK!

napkin_justask

‘Just Ask’ the ACTION part of the For Impact message.

  • Through The Suddes Group, we’ve raised a lot of money.  A big reason for this was because WE ASKED.

    So many times I’ve been on a visit with an executive director.  We asked… the prospect (after some dialogue) said yes and the executive director then later said to me,

    “We did everything you did.
    Except we usually just don’t ask!”

  • Through For Impact we’ve trained thousands. We keep track of everyone that leaves a boot camp or that we’ve worked with in some coaching/training capacity. There are those that go on to raise a lot of money and there are those that don’t do much…

    As near as I can tell there is ONE salient difference between those that go on to raise a lot and those that sit of their duff…. They GET this napkin message.

Those that have been to our home at Eagle Creek have probably seen the ‘war room’.  This is the place were Tom, Kerry and I beat each other up about what words to use in our frameworks.

We have a big fight [usually a good fight] about each piece of content that goes into our system.  No big words hang out there by accident.

With that in mind I want to point out what this napkin does NOT say.  It doesn’t say,

  • Just ask when timing is perfect.
  • Just ask when you know exactly what to ask for.
  • Just ask after you’ve visiting with the prospect nine times.
  • Just ask when you’re entire board is on board.
  • Just ask when those butterflies in your stomach are finally gone.
  • Just ask when you have the perfect message.
  • Just ask when you have the perfect materials.

It says, “Just Ask!”

  • Timing will never be perfect.
  • The only what you’ll know what to ask for is by asking (and getting a response).
  • You are in the business of saving, changing and impacting lives It’s not about nine visits.  People cultivate because they can’t communicate!
  • Re: the board… just move… take action.
  • I  still feel like I want to puke before a big ask….
  • The only way to truly test a message is to ASK.
  • Re: Materials, see my above point about message.

Just ASK is all about action.

It’s permission to move.  Nothing happens until you ask!

Until you ask, (one-on-one), the message is not personal.
Until you ask, people don’t know how they can help.Until you ask, the prospect doesn’t guide you through what else is needed (from the message, from the org or plan) to make a commitment.
Until you ask, prospects can’t say YES!

Just Ask!
Always Ask.

This is 90% of everything you need to know about raising money.

Killing off campaign committees (the message and meetings, not the people)

Here’s a story about an organization that was having a hard time getting leadership engaged and ‘on board’ through a campaign committee / chair structure.

I’ve just started working with a youth-serving organization in the midwest. This organization started a campaign two years ago – then put on the brakes. It couldn’t find a ‘Capital Campaign Committee Chairperson’.

The description for this ‘Capital Campaign Committee Chair’ was four pages in length. It included things like (and I’m not making this up):

  • [First line of the description:] Acceptance of the Capital Campaign’s financial goal by the General Chairperson represents his/her commitment to raise this goal for this campaign.

  • This person should make a lead or the lead commitment for the campaign.

  • The chairperson is responsible for achieving the campaign funding goal. [Yes, essentially this is stated twice.]

  • The chairperson is responsible for identifying, recruiting and soliciting other members of the campaign committee.

I should note, the four pages did have other filler that wasn’t as harsh.

The message? The Capital Campaign Committee Chairperson basically has to do the whole campaign… devote the next two years to focusing on income, no impact… he’s on his own… except he’s not because he’s going to sell others to come along for the ride.

OBVIOUSLY no one in his or her right mind would sign onto this. It’s no wonder this organization was having trouble finding a chair.
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Sustainability vs. Resilience

In our travels and training, we hear a lot of ‘not-for-profit’ people talking about SUSTAINABILITY.

I’ve always struggled with the response to this. The way it was used (and asked for), it really meant, “I wish we had all the money we needed/a huge endowment… so that we wouldn’t have to worry about fundraising.”

I actually found the answer in this month’s ODE magazine. BTW, ODE is for intelligent optimists. I’m definitely an optimist. Just not intelligent.

Editor-In-Chief Jurriaan Kamp provides a huge WOW in his Letter from the Editor. “RESILIENCE is cropping up with increasing frequency as the next step in thinking about SUSTAINABILITY.”

“RESILIENCE is a dynamic concept focused on incorporating inevitable CHANGE. RESILIENCE is about how systems respond and how we can support such responses.”

Kamp goes on to say that “RESILIENCE is very different from SUSTAINABILITY. Sustainable, after all, means ‘capable of being maintained'(!). SUSTAINABILITY features static control. RESILIENCE is about DYNAMIC RESPONSE.”

That’s really GOOD STUFF.

He adds one more thought: “Resilience systems have a capacity to handle disruptions (change) and reorganize themselves while preserving their function, structure and identity.”

Next time somebody starts throwing around the ‘SUSTAINABIITY’ objective… try talking about RESILIENCE.

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.

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.

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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.