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What a lack of awareness (or a lot of awareness) means to your funding and how to fix it.

We begin each Board Experience by asking each participant to share what he or she perceives to be the biggest funding obstacle. We also ask each person to single out the greatest asset we have to leverage or opportunity to transform funding.

Quite often someone will bring up ‘awareness’ as a challenge.

One person might say, “I think we don’t have enough awareness in the community.. This is our problem. I think we should build awareness?”

Another person might say, “We’re so visible and successful that everything things we don’t need any help. How do we change that?” (Note: I received two of these emails this am.)

Awareness translates into awareness. Not sustained revenue from relationships. We’ve had several clients that have been on Oprah –which, as you might know, equals some awareness. They get a BIG HIT, though this usually comes more in the form of traffic that crashes a website than funding revenues. We’ve also worked with some of the biggest social/nonprofit brands you can think of.

The real (funding) challenge is not awareness. It’s that we’re not making any visits. The jump in revenue comes from making 1:1 visits, sharing your story and presenting the opportunity (read: ASKING around the impact) for someone to make an investment that will change lives, save lives or impact lives.

Lack awareness? Find and visit with the best 10, 20, 30 prospects to share your story (making them aware of the incredible things you’re doing) and presenting the opportunity to help.

Have a lot of awareness? Find and visit with your best 10, 20, 30 prospects to share your story (making them aware of how much more you COULD be doing) and then presenting the opportunity to help.


Kiva on Groupon – Do The Math

I was reluctant to post this. Reluctant because organizations trend to fall back on MORE marketing instead of picking up the phone to schedule a visit.

Just appreciate this one for the creative MATH.

I got a Groupon notice this morning about Kiva. I could “Save $10 on a $25 Microloan Gift or Credit to Help Global Entrepreneurs through

My immediate reaction was to think it was absurd. People should be doing this HELP. Not to save money.

Then I did the math.

  • Groupon only lets you buy ONE credit and it’s only selling 500 credits.

  • On top of that, if you buy the credit (as I did) you have to go to the website and redeem. Not everyone will do this – in which case you’re puchase is converted to a straight up donation.

  • Worst case scenario, Groupon is out $5000 ($10 per credit times 500 purchases).

  • The credits sold out in no time. Groupon just BOUGHT 500 lenders for $5K and a lot of marketing to boot.

That’s pretty great math.


I Never Know What To Ask For Until After I Ask

On Monday led the Washington DC For Impact Experience (think: workshop, but way better).

Most organizations in the room were new to the concept of sitting down with someone and making a 1-on-1 visit and ask (a ‘targeted solicitation’ – as one attendee put it). When you’re new there can be fear of the unknown that translates into reluctance. You’re not sure what to ask for – for one thing.

I never know what to ask for until AFTER I ask. It took many asks – and mentorship from Tom – for me to understand that you’ll never know what to ask for. It will always be unknown — until you ask. Hopefully all of us at For Impact can pass this lesson on to you. This insight was a big epiphany for several attendees just as it was for me.

Sometimes the ask is for too much and sometimes too little but you know this because you asked. While most development officers or executive directors are huddled in their office trying to do more research you can go out and have a REAL conversation… build a REAL relationship and make a REAL ask. Because you’re building a relationship, this will lead to several more requests and investments over the next 3, 6, 9 months and following years…. while other organizations will LITERALLY take YEARS to figure out exactly what to ask for (which will never happen).


The Definition of Social Entrepreneurism


There is a lot of discussion around the definition of Social Entrepreneurship and Social Enterprise.

My favorite is Drucker because, at the highest level, it’s about changing the performance capacity of society.

Here are some other definitions and quotes to help motivate and inspire you as go about changing the world. Print it. Post it. Ponder it. (Then DO SOMETHING!)

Special Note: An entrepreneur is an entrepreneur is an entrepreneur. Jurriaan Kamp, Editor of ODE Magazine, called ‘SOCIAL ENTREPRENEURS’ a pleonasm, much like ‘ORGANIC APPLES’. (I had to look it up, too. It means unnecessary repetition.) He goes on to say that ALL entrepreneurs are really SOCIAL ENTREPRENEURS. “What other reason could there be to start an enterprise other than to make a useful contribution to society?”

For More


Social Entrepreneurship Revisited

I’ve been working on my ENTREPRENEURIAL SPIRIT collection and found a great article by Paul Light from the Summer 2009 Stanford Social Innovation Review.

Paul Light is a professor at NYU’s Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service, author of Search for Social Entrepreneurship and a terrific thinker and researcher in this space.

In this article, he has a very concise overview of Social Entrepreneurship, including some new insights around four assumptions that he initially rejected but now accepts.

    1. Social entrepreneurs are not like other high achievers.
    2. Socially entrepreneurial ideas are big.
    3. Opportunities for grand change come in waves
    4. Socially entrepreneurial organizations are built to change.

Check out this article, which includes some great nuggets around unshakable optimism, grand impacts (!), ultimate impacts (!), social enterprises that are relatively flat and singularly focused on the idea of change, and much more.


Struggle to Success to Significance

Why do I believe that entrepreneurs (with financial capacity) are the very best prospects and potential investors for your For Impact org???

It has to do with the 3rd ‘S’’ word added to Peter Drucker’s great definition of a social movement.

Struggle to Success to Significance.

Drucker coined the Success to Significance part, which in and of itself, is a huge deal.

I added Struggle. Every entrepreneur has faced adversity while tackling opportunity. They’ve struggled to turn ideas into reality… struggled to meet payroll… struggled to generate revenue, sales and growth… struggled to balance life and work… and much more.

This ‘Struggle’, I believe, has left most of them with a very strong sense of gratitude and appreciation. It has created a desire to give back.

That’s why makes these entrepreneurs such great prospects.



3 Sentences

I just received this blog from an amazing young, talented Social Entrepreneur. In her own words, it describes how SIMPLICITY can make a HUGE difference in a presentation.

Upon hearing your presentation at StartingBloc, I prepared a document that describes my start-up in 3 sentences. A simple, concise message explaining the how, what, and why.

Today I had a meeting with a nonprofit lawyer who tore gaping wounds into my business model, revealing all the ways that my start-up is a legal nightmare. I sat in quiet horror, listening to his criticism.

After he finished his diatribe, there was a pause. And I slipped him the paper. Just 3 sentences. He read them. He re-read them. Then he took a deep breath, and agreed to take me on pro-bono!!! This is the top nonprofit lawyer in XXX! Not only is he going to help me incorporate and will develop the documents I need to be legally protected after we launch, but he is also going to use his contacts to expedite the process so that I have 501(c)3 status within 4 weeks!!! And he is going to put me in touch with his friends who run foundations!!! And he will help us get media coverage when we launch!!!

It’s a life-changing development, because otherwise, I’m certain that my organization would go down in legal flames. But now I’m taken care of! Thank you thank you thank you. I know it was the simple message that sold him. :)

Just re-read the last sentence.

Kudos/accolades/applause to M. for actually doing something with an idea for the presentation.


The Unlived Life Is Not Worth Examining

We’ve all read and heard from those ancient Greek guys proclaiming “The unexamined life is not worth living.”

As a modern-day ‘Old Guy’, I think they had it backwards. For me,


You can sit around contemplating your navel… or you can make stuff happen, screw up, succeed, etc.

You can ponder the meaning of life… or you can give life meaning.

Note: Here’s a great quote from a plaque in my workroom given to me by a very close friend:

Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and screaming, “WOO HOO, what a ride!”


The ‘OPEN’ vs. ‘CLOSE’ Paradox

Brian Tracy, one of the best sales trainers in the world, says that 40% of salespeople don’t close. Jack Canfield, of mega-phenom Chicken Soup fame puts the number at 60%.

As the old (and only?) song by the Monkees goes, music_note“I’m a believer…” when it comes to JUST ASK.

However, we have re-framed the ASK (CLOSE) to PRESENT THE OPPORTUNITY (to INVEST, to OWN, whatever).

With that said, I am convinced more and more that it’s much more about the ‘OPEN’, not the ‘CLOSE’, that makes the SALE.

Do a GREAT OPEN! It’s a VISIT, not an appointment. Talk about yourself and ask about the prospect. Then… you can move to purpose of visit.

***In our For Impact Presentation Flow, the OPEN is built around you… them… us. Amazing how many people don’t begin the VISIT talking about themselves and then the prospect before they start talking about the organization.


What part of Re-Allocate don’t you understand?

I’ve written a few other things on the whole idea of RE-ALLOCATION. In its simplest form, this is a one-word entrepreneurial approach to taking a hard look at your GOAL… and then RE-ALLOCATING RESOURCES to meet those goals.

Here’s what triggered this. Nick, Kerry and I hear this comment three to ten times a day: “We love your stuff. We really need your help. (With our Board, with Training, with Coaching). But, WE DON’T HAVE ANY MONEY/BUDGET.”

Here’s the part that bothers me so much about that. When challenged about CURRENT use of resources, this is what we hear:

    “We just spent HUGE DOLLARS on wealth screening.”
    *What good is it to know the auditor’s assessment value of their house in today’s turbulent real estate market?
    “We just spent HUGE DOLLARS on our database management system.”
    *You can’t manage relationships you don’t have!
    • “We just spent HUGE DOLLARS hiring a Planned Giving Officer or adding Special Event Coordinators.”
    *You’re in sales. Get over it. Boots on the street. Top down, shoulder-to-shoulder presentations.

I could go on and on. I won’t. You either get the fact that you need to RE-ALLOCATE RESOURCES (Money, Time, People) to those things that are MOST IMPORTANT… or you don’t.

Note: This particular conversation would also lead to the Pandora’s Box of ‘COST OF FUNDRAISING’. Do the Math. It will make this whole RE-ALLOCATION thing waaaay easier.


Entrepreneurial Paradox

Ten years ago, I put this list together for an MBA class presentation at Notre Dame for Jim Davis. Jim is a professor in the Notre Dame Business School, former Director of the Gigot Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, and one of my favorite people to hang around.

Jim and I both thought this was an interesting way to talk about the challenges of being an Entrepreneur.

I thought it would be of value to anyone trying to both build and lead a high-performance team and scale and grow an organization/business.

*I updated a few words for relevance.


Re: Revenue. The job of marketing. The job of sales.

I stumbled on a great read: If Disney Ran Your Hospital.

It caught my attention because one of the first lines of the books reads:

“The job of marketing is to provide qualified leads for sales.”

Think about that line as it relates to your organization.

  • Marketing v. Sales: Look at your funding efforts. Many of them are really marketing efforts — begging the question, where is the sales function?

  • How can you use your ‘marketing functions’ (in my book: mail, social media, events) as fulfilling the stated job above? This changes the game.

  • Problem is I think many try to use marketing (again, in my book: mail, social, media, events) as the centerpieces of a funding strategy. This frame forces an adjustment. If you do them at all (not sure you should be doing them at all) then be sure they provide QUALIFIED LEADS because your organization is COMMITTED TO SALES!