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Leaders Lead

I am on my way to New York City and having dinner tonight with an old friend, big-time Mensch and Jewish Philanthropic Superstar, Bob Werner.

Bob used these words, “LEADERS LEAD” to remind me many years ago that success or failure on any kind of funding initiative is a direct result of LEADERS LEADING!

Over these years, I have used that maxim to:

1. CHALLENGE the actual leaders of the organization or the project to actually LEAD!

2. Help create and encourage CHAMPIONS (both internal and external) to step up and LEAD.

3. Generate COMMITMENTS from leaders (that’s why they call them ‘Leadership’ gifts) to create momentum and leverage for an initiative.

LEADERS LEAD. Boards, Staffs, Constituents and Stakeholders can then FOLLOW.

Note: The other thing we’ve learned: If LEADERS are not engaged and passionate and champions for the initiative or the project or the organization… it then becomes the ‘Suddes Group’s Campaign’ or (just) ‘The Next Campaign’ (a kind of ‘necessary evil’).

Simple Closing Thought: ASK… your LEADERS… to LEAD.


Presentation Checklist (PDF Download)

I’m currently reading The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get the Big Things Right. Great read… simple but powerful concepts. Explores the power of checklists, in airplanes, the operating room and life. Checklists have enormous power for the ‘important routines’. They relieve tremendous burden in processing information and they provide a formal way for a group to ‘check off’ each point.

In one story, the author describes operating room situations in which surgeons skip protocol, leading to infection. By simply adding a checklist it created the power for a nurse to address a skipped step.

A checklist… getting the big things right… reminded me of our Presentation Checklist. We use this ahead of every visit just to frame communication amongst the team and make sure we haven’t skipped any important steps. Note: This would be separate from a prospect strategy.

Download the checklist.


Prospect Name: (You would be amazed how much clarity can be achieved by simply focusing in on WHO the prospect is. A ‘family with many players’ is not a prospect.)

Relationship Manager: (Person responsible for managing the relationship.)

Natural Partners: (People outside of your sales team that have a relationship with the prospect.)

  • WHO … needs to be there (Presentation Team)

  • HOW … will we predispose

  • WHEN … is the best time

  • WHAT… do we need to learn on the visit (Discovery)

  • WHAT …do we want to accomplish (Goals)

    WHAT… questions can we ask to help us in Discovery and transition toward Goals?

  • POTENTIAL CHALLENGES (objections) … and responses

  • WHERE .. BEST place for “visit” (Start at our facilities)

  • FLOW … of the visit


  • POSSIBLE PROJECT/PROGRAMS … (no detail, just overview)



Customizing Innovation

I was pulling some stuff together for our new Social Entrepreneurial Initiative: For Impact YES (Your Entrepreneur Spirit). I came across an article I had set aside from Stanford Social Innovation Review (Winter 2011).

Titled Disseminating Orphan Innovations, Susan Evans and Peter Clarke, espoused that a great idea or program within the social sector requires CUSTOMIZATION… not REPLICATION.

They have 8 lessons for customizing innovations, including one of our favorite strategies, “Must find at least one strategically positioned person at each site to serve as their CHAMPION.” (My bold caps).

If you’ve got a great program, project or package that should be rolled out in as many places as possible, to effect the most people… think CUSTOMIZATION, not REPLICATION.


Not Really About ‘Individual Giving’

I’m doing some work both nationally and with local and regional Junior Achievement organizations.

I LOVE what they do, which can be summarized (at least by me) as:


Their Message is so strong around the ‘3 Pillars’, of STUDENT SUCCESS: WORK READINESS, FINANCIAL LITERACY and ENTREPRENEURSHIP.

As part of the MESSAGE, they also communicate their ‘BUSINESS’ with these 3 Circles: YOUTH DEVELOPMENT, EDUCATIONAL DEVELOPMENT and ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT.

As with many national social, health and youth organizations… JA is searching for a way to increase ‘INDIVIDUAL GIVING’. (Right now, they’re getting the majority of their funding revenue from corporations and special events.)

In a recent conversation, I was trying to shift their thinking… and ended up with the following:

It’s not really about individual giving or corporate giving or foundations or whatever.

It is about the MASTER PROSPECT LIST!!!!

This is the centerpiece of our prospecting ‘system’ and is basically a top down, descending order of importance list of prospects. It’s based primarily on CAPACITY and RELATIONSHIP… with GIVING HISTORY, TIMING, PHILANTHROPY and GUT as the other four factors.

For more on the Master Prospect List and for more ON PROSPECTS, there is a 3-day window for you to download everything I know about PROSPECTS (titled, simply enough, ON PROSPECTS.)

Again, don’t get caught up on whether this is about major gifts, principle gifts, individual gifts, corporate gifts, Christmas gifts, birthday gifts or gift gifts.

Look at ALL parts of your prospect pool and do a Master Prospect List that represents ALL of your Qualified Prospects.


‘Shoulder to Shoulder’

In the last few months, this little nugget/gem has helped a lot of people we’ve trained. I wanted to share or remind you of the power of being ‘SHOULDER TO SHOULDER’ on a visit.

Not ‘eyeball to eyeball’; ‘belly to belly’.

Not facing each other across a desk.

Not competition, ‘arm wrestling’, adversarial.

Getting ‘SHOULDER TO SHOULDER’ implies friendship, same side, working together, and a lot of other ‘good things‘.

Think of this soccer analogy: 1v1.

1v1 is about one versus one… a competition to see who can beat the other player. (Not exactly what we’re trying for on a visit!)

Instead of 1v1… think 1+1!!!

Note: This wording idea came from my friend, Christopher Celeste, a brilliant thinker, entrepreneur, and (my highest compliment) a terrific father to a blended family of 6 amazing kids. (CAC, thanks!)


Too Many Nonprofits Exist to Exist

Half of the ‘not-for-profits’ exists to exist. Or so it seems to me many times, living in the field.

A classic case is the ‘not-for-profit’ that was started by a passionate founder 20 years ago. There was a catalyst… a purpose… a vision.

Forward 20 years and today the board and staff get together to figure out how to meet the operating budget. They do strategic plans that articulate priorities that include capacity (growth) and quality… to what end?

Does your organization exist to exist?
What is its raison d’être?
When was the last time we asked this question?

For many organizations, answering the WHY question is the first and most important step really having more impact.


Poke It, Start It, Do It

Some final thoughts on Seth Godin’s POKE THE BOX. So much good stuff in the short but powerful e-book that Seth just finished, that I needed to throw a few more nuggets at you.

    • “SHIP: The point where your ‘work’ intersects with the ‘market’!”
    • “The person who FAILS the most usually wins.”
    • “This might not work.” (This is perfectly okay to say. Try it anyway.)
    • “Juggling is about THROWING… not catching. The only way to get better at THROWING is to THROW!” (SDE!)
    • “Today, NOT STARTING is far, far worse than being wrong.”
    • “Nonprofits and government discovered that the best way to thrive in a world that’s CHANGING… is to CHANGE.”

And, I’ll close with 30,000′ high-level mantra from Poke that really doesn’t have anything to do with Ship It, Act, Start Stuff. It does, however, have a huge impact on your life.


Seth just reinforces what every entrepreneur and successful person that I’ve studied does:



Schools Provide Financial Aid. Investors Provide Scholarships.

Note to all Development/Sales Teams in EDUCATION.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had serious discussions on how to ‘sell’ financial aid.

Clearly, it should be a very, very compelling story!

In a recent session with a VP for Development at a college (a great guy with a terrific background but not a lot of collegiate ‘fundraising’ experience), I stated this simple distinction:



Joe said it was brilliant. I’m not sure about that, but it is simple and clear.

Note: The other big, big, big deal when talking about financial aid or scholarships is too really, really, really DO THE MATH!

It’s actually very simple MATH:


• COST(of Education): $C (Annual Operating Budget divided by # of Students. It’s hard to mess this up.)

• The ‘GAP’: $G (Cost – Tuition)

• DISCOUNT: $D or % (School ‘Dollars’ not funded with Real ‘Dollars’)


• ENDOWED SCHOLARSHIP: $ES (20 x Gap or Discount or Average Financial Aid)


‘Bz Dev’ vs. Development or Advancement

I spent almost two days together last week at Eagle Creek coaching and working with someone who is, to me, the Ideal Profile of a Senior Advancement Leader at a college.

‘Joe’ has an entrepreneurial background, is passionate about the mission of his relatively new college, and is a great, great sales person. (Listens. Understands the story. Always presents the opportunity.)

Joe flew in from the West Coast, and we covered a lot of ground in 36 hours. Message. Math. Model. And More.

One of the most interesting ‘side bar’ conversations we had was around ‘titles‘.

‘Joe’ is currently the Vice President of Development. Pretty standard. The more we talked about a more appropriate title for him… the more we realized that he was really all about BZ DEV or BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT. He’s developing new partnerships. He’s developing new revenue streams. He’s developing new deals that are going to have a huge impact.

It just makes so much sense for him to be positioning himself with the 33 top prospects and transformational investors as responsible for BZ DEV! (Another option is Vice President in Charge of Starting Stuff, but that ended up too crazy even for me.)

To all the great Development Teams out there: Think of yourself as BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT, as opposed to ‘fundraising‘. See if it helps.