Transformational gifts are not always the largest gifts. Sometimes a commitment made at the right time – early in a project, or perhaps when a campaign is stalled – can be transformational.
When funding for a project is unclear, or when funders are not coming through with commitments, confidence can decline. On a team this often manifests itself in the form of more meetings, lack of team cohesion, and increased turnover. We cannot overstate the importance of confidence – for individuals, for your advancement team, for your complete enterprise.
The nonprofit sector is the largest sector of our economy. We would love to be able to calculate the lost productivity, or lost output, due to uncertainty, fear, or simply a lack of clarity that arises from (or, in many cases, produces) a lack of funding.
We’ve witnessed how a gift commitment at the right time can provide more than just momentum – it can transform a team and an enterprise. It can validate the vision and trigger a state of flow in an organization. In the funding function, this translates into increased confidence in the story, more presentations, more asks, and more revenue.
There are times when we can share the internal uncertainty with a funder – to talk about the impact the commitment could have on the psychology of the team. Any funder that’s ever had to lead will understand the importance of validation, clarity, and the morale boost that follows.
In a way we’re saying, “Your impact is not only going to be on the kids, or homes, or projects. It’s going to have a very, very real impact on our team. They have been putting in long hours, fighting for this plan.”
It takes a particular command and control to share this kind of message with a funder. It’s not about showing weakness. It’s… a real opportunity to transform. This is the kind of thing we mean when we talk about being ‘a real partner’ with the funder and standing ‘shoulder-to-shoulder’.
So, transformational gifts can be about something other than huge gifts that give scale; they can be about well-timed funding commitments that give confidence. Confidence and team-cohesion is TRANSFORMATIONAL.
I’m consistently reminded by clients and boot camp alums of the power this one insight has on them.
Don’t make decisions for your prospects.
Most recently, I got a note from the head of advancement for a college who told me this ONE insight TRANSFORMED fundraising for him in 2016. So, I think this is the perfect insight to reflect on as we start the new year.
Don’t assume the prospect has a ‘giving level’ just because they gave at X the past three years. Maybe they haven’t been asked.
Get comfortable with the Clueless Close. This is a great example of a way to ask – authentically – in which you’re not making a decision for the prospect.
Use this insight to question assumptions. At some point this year a natural partner will say to you, “You should ask for $X. That’s the right number for this prospect.” Unless that statement is product of extraordinary strategy and dialogue with the prospect, don’t make a decision to LIMIT the ask. (Don’t worry about under-asking or over-asking. (See tip #6 in 9 Tips to Help You Get to the Ask.) When you catch this thinking you can coach yourself by asking, “What would this prospect give if they were totally committed to the impact? If this was their number one cause?” See if you can build your comfort to ask from this place. Related: I sometimes find myself saying (with TOTAL authenticity), “It’s not my job to try and decide the appropriate investment level for you. It’s my job to make sure I make the best case for how we can have an impact and then let you decide if that’s right for you.”
Guard against the voice inside that says, “Maybe now is not the right time to ask.” We exist to save lives, change lives and impact lives. Deciding it’s not the right time to give a prospect the opportunity to save, change and impact lives goes against everything we are trying to teach.
Point of emphasis: This is an insight (or a guiding perspective), not a strategy.
We help social entrepreneurs and really cool organizations implement a true sales model for philanthropy. The word SALES is supposed to grab your attention!
“You’re in sales, get over it.” – Tom Suddes
Most of us got into this work for the IMPACT, not the fundraising… and certainly not ‘SALES’!!! But ‘SALES’ holds the key to resourcing the impact we want to have. Pat Williams and Jim Denney are co-authors of some the world’s great leadership biographies – from Bear Bryant and Coach Wooden to Mother Theresa. Here’s how Pat Williams writes about Walt Disney as a salesperson. Note: I’ve pulled dozens of nuggets out of the book and threaded them together. As always, just read the book – How to Be Like Walt: Capturing the Disney Magic Every Day of Your Life
Virginia Davis (Walt’s original Alice) told Pat that Walt Disney was a great salesman: “The more I examined Walt’s life, the more I saw what a profound insight this was. From the very beginning of his career, Walt was a salesman— one of the greatest salesmen the world has ever known.”
Many people look down on selling as somehow beneath them. I hope you don’t make that mistake. All the wealth in America can be traced to the fact that somebody somewhere sold something to somebody else. Selling is one of the most honorable professions around— and one of the most rewarding. It is also one of the toughest. What does it take to be a great salesperson? I would suggest five qualities that every great salesperson must have. Build these qualities into your life and you can sell like Walt. Those five qualities are honesty, enthusiasm, confidence, courage and persistence.
Honesty.All great salespeople are honest. Does that surprise you? That’s probably because you have been raised on the stereotype of the fast-talking used-car salesman in the plaid jacket. Sure, shysters abound, and they give a bad name to the honest salespeople who make their living by trading value for value. But the best salespeople are people of integrity. A great salesperson lives on repeat business. The key to repeat business is trust, and the key to trust is integrity. Anybody can sell to one customer one time. A great salesperson builds relationships of trust on a foundation of truth.
All great salespeople are fired up about their product. Enthusiasm is contagious; it affects everyone around you. How did a twenty-year-old cartoonist convince a group of Kansas City businessmen to part with $15,000 so he could open his studio? Enthusiasm! Voice actor Corey Burton told me, “
Walt was excited about his projects, his movies, his theme park. When he was excited about something, his excitement fired up everyone around him. That’s how he sold his dreams.” Disney film editor Norman “Stormy” Palmer recalls Walt’s power to motivate. “Walt’s enthusiasm made over-achievers out of all of us,” he told me. “You got caught up with his energy, you believed in his ideas, and you wanted to please him. He transmitted his excitement to all of us. If it hadn’t been for Walt, there would have been a lot of times we would have settled for less than our best.”
Confidence. Confidence is not a feeling, it’s an attitude choice. Even if you don’t feel confident, you can still adopt an attitude of confidence. You may not be comfortable selling yourself or your product, but so what? Nobody is comfortable selling. Nobody ever became successful by staying within their comfort zone. If you want to succeed, you have to do what Walt did: take a big, confident step outside your comfort zone, and start selling your dreams.
Courage. Psychological studies show that high-achieving, successful people are not overly concerned about what others think. This was true of Walt Disney. He never catered to his critics. He never worried about rejection. He kept selling his dreams. 5. Persistence. Walt absorbed the blows and soldiered on, fueled by a total and utter belief that his vision was right. Walt was successful because of one rock-solid Midwestern value. It’s called perseverance.
It’s worth bottom-lining these three gems:
The best salespeople are people of integrity.
Enthusiasm is contagious.
Confidence is not a feeling, it’s an attitude choice. (Write this one on your MIRROR!)
Instead, we PREDISPOSE the prospect or potential investor before, during and after the visit. We predispose them to our phone call to set up the visit … we predispose to the visit/presentation itself … and yes, we even predispose to the follow-up!
The word PREDISPOSE means to make someone inclined, in advance, to a specific action or attitude. You need to be predisposing potential investors:
To expect your contact,
To look forward to visiting with you about your amazing organization,
About your goals for the visit and how much time you need,
About when to expect your follow up and what you will be communicating in your follow up.
This week’s theme is: Create a simple, powerful PRESENTATION and ENGAGEMENT TOOL.
The are three key components to a great presentation: Engagement, Discovery and Authenticity.
Our goal on the visit is to get people ENGAGED – in a dialogue – about them, about you, and about the opportunity you both have to save, change, and impact lives.
Asking questions is the best way to do DISCOVERY. It is the best way to create ENGAGEMENT and an absolutely marvelous way to be able to PRESENT THE OPPORTUNITY!
Here are 3 quick tips on how to be a great listener:
Focus. Actually sit up, and engage with your eyes and ears as you focus on exactly what the prospect is saying.
Get people to tell their story. This is even better than you sharing the story about impact. Let them tell you why they find meaning in your impact or organization. Nothing you say can trump their ‘WHY.’
Take notes. In my mind, this is a great way to show respect, show that you’re listening, and show that you care. The best thing about notes for me is that it helps me focus on listening, and then when the prospect is finished I can refer back to the notes and quotes.
*It’s also a great way to capture as much of the visit as you can for the Memo for the Record, which, of course, you are going to complete as soon after the call as possible.
We like to tell our Boot Camp attendees, “If you’re authentic, you can’t screw it (the visit, the conversation, the ask) up!”
AUTHENTICITY means being REAL. HONEST. CANDID. SINCERE!
The people you’re with know right away whether you’re ‘selling snake oil’ or SINCERELY PRESENTING AN OPPORTUNITY that has VALUE to both the GIVER and the RECEIVER!
I read 30 years ago (in Denis Waitley’s Seeds of Greatness) that the word SINCERE means “without wax” (in Latin, sine = without, cera = wax.) Ancient sculptors would ‘fix’ any flaws or mistakes that they made in the marble by filling in the mistake with wax.
This is a special time and an obvious week of Gratitude and Thanksgiving.
Note: Every year I try to share a Thanksgiving message with our Tribe/Community. Some of this ‘recycled’ from previous years because of the timeless nature of these thoughts.
Three things to think about this Thanksgiving and Holiday Season:
“WEALTH IS AN ABUNDANCE OF THINGS WE VALUE.”
For the first half of my life (30+ years), my understanding of wealth was the same as all my friends, business associates and the general public. ‘WEALTH’ meant you had a lot of money.
Then I found this definition and it allowed me to become one of the ‘WEALTHIEST’ people in the world.
Here’s a simple test of your ‘WEALTH.’ Write down a list of all the things that you truly VALUE. Then, put a ‘COST’ (an actual dollar figure) next to everything on the list.
Most of you will look at the list and realize that the things that you truly VALUE end up COSTING NOTHING!
Bob and Melinda Blanchard, in their wonderful entrepreneurial book Live What You Love, have a great line: “It only matters if it BREATHES.”
My own VALUE LIST is filled with simple things that are alive … family time, adventures with the grandkids, health, friends, business partners, etc. … and, some that are not … a great book, a good cup of coffee, nature, the sun, the ocean, the mountains, a boxing workout, yoga and a ride on the Harley.
Here’s the pretty obvious point: ‘WEALTH’, no matter how you define it, is not about ‘money.’ Money is just ‘worthless wampum’ in the grand scheme of life.
Clearly, we need to provide ourselves and family with food, shelter, clothing, etc. But if the accumulation of money, a higher salary or how much you can put in your bank or your portfolio is your measurement for success or happiness … I’m guessing you’ll be doing that ‘camel through the eye of the needle’ thing at the end of your life.
Robert Allen has a great quote, “If a man with many riches suddenly loses all of his money and then jumps out of a window, then, that man was never truly wealthy.”
In an old ODE magazine (which has now been renamed the OPTIMIST), there was an entire issue around this idea of ‘money’. One of the best lines was a simple statement: “It’s not about MONEY. It’s what you DO with your money.”
Special Note: I’m an entrepreneur. I’m all about financial freedom. I want to be able to take care of my family, travel, live on the farm and much more. I just don’t believe that money is the scorecard or measurement of wealth or success.
The Thanksgiving and holiday season is a great opportunity to think of WEALTH as an ABUNDANCE OF THINGS THAT YOU VALUE… and enjoy your ‘WEALTH’.
I’ve been doing a lot of reading lately on this whole idea of ‘Gratitude’. Mindfulness. Meaning. Purpose. And more. It is particularly powerful in the mind-body relation, especially keeping some kind of gratitude journal.
Take a little bit of time each day to remind yourself of the good things and the things for which you are most grateful.
“THE MORE YOU GIVE THE MORE YOU GET.”
“We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.”
– Winston Churchill
I’ve had the privilege of watching thousands of people experience serious ‘giving‘. I’ve also watched many of these people literally move from success to significance. While I don’t exactly understand how it works, I know that giving brings much more happiness than receiving.
There’s a great line from a country song:
“It’s not what you take with you … when you leave the world behind.”
“It’s what you leave behind you … when you leave this world behind you.”
I believe all of three of these thoughts help us make a life, not a living. There’s no better time of the year than now to share with others.
From all of us at For Impact and The Suddes Group, we wish you a very Happy Thanksgiving and great holiday season.
Special Note: Every year I share these 3 stories that you may want to share with your children/grandchildren or family. THE HAPPY PRINCE is a great story/fable. THE SEVEN WONDERS OF THE WORLD are seen through the eyes of a child. The third is a very powerful parable about giving called the SEA OF GALILEE.