The absence of strong Funding Rationales (a.k.a. your reason for needing funds) likely means your organization is not maximizing relationships.
At a major-gifts level* there needs to be some specificity in terms of funding a specific program, outcome, or priority initiative. (See 10 Types of Funding Rationales). If you don’t have a specific Funding Rationale then one of two things usually happens:
The commitment is not maximized. People give to support a mission or a cause, and they invest more to support specific impact (or outcome). Our experience has been that a portfolio gives 3x more when you’re able to clearly define a strong funding rationale!!! This is the difference between asking,”Will you invest $10K in our vision?” And, “Will you invest $10K to help with this priority and these outcomes that will help us deliver on the vision?”
Funders (over) restrict the funding. When we see this, it’s an indication that the funder is creating a rationale because yours is not clear enough! Note: While restricted funding is not bad in and of itself, gifts committed with restrictions crafted by the funder hinder an organization’s efficiency or focus. Said another way, if you don’t define your priorities/rationales then someone will do it for you.
*For most organizations this is $10K+ and could come from an individual, corporation, or foundation.
Zig Ziglar, one of the greatest sales trainers of all time, said that a sale is made on every visit. Either you sell the prospect on all the reasons why s/he should buy or s/he sells you on all the reasons why s/he should not. Period.
My contention is that if you don’t decide to be one side of that either/or then you will almost always let the sale happen TO YOU. You will almost always be sold on reasons why the person cannot give what you had hoped for or what you need to deliver on the plan.
Remember: Hope is not a strategy.
So, decide. Don’t hope.
Years ago, when Tiger Woods was in his prime, he remarked that he does not putt the ball until he has decided it will go in the hole – Until he has that level of certainty, confidence and visualization.
This is the level of conviction you need to bring to every VISIT.
Of course, every putt does not fall and every ‘ask’ does not close. But, you can’t go into a visit ‘hoping’. You need to decide the commitment is a foregone conclusion.
As a mentee of Tom Suddes’ for years, I watched and learned the hard work that went into making a great case. Tom would not go into make a visit or presentation until he was able to wrap his mind around the emotion + logic of the case so completely that he thought, “Why would someone NOT make this investment?”
There is an old sales maxim: I am sold myself. Certainly you don’t visit until YOU are sold. That work is upon us as sales people to own that conviction. It’s not up to a manager or a CEO. It is OUR responsibility to do the work to be totally sold.
I don’t want to hide this from you – Arriving at that level of conviction, preparation and DECISION is hard work.
For those that still have an aversion to the word ‘sales’ – Get over it. This isn’t about used cars. It’s about making your case and engaging in such a compelling way that people understand what it will take to save lives, change lives and impact lives. This makes Zig’s challenge perhaps MORE important in the world of philanthropy.
We live in a great world. People are generous. You are doing good work.
I believe 80% of the time gifts are not maximized because a generous person said he or she would commit $10K and we did not sell them on the true need (e.g. $100K) to deliver the impact. Instead, we were sold on all the reasons why they could not make the larger commitment.
This week’s theme is: Commit to SHARING THE STORY and PRESENTING THE OPPORTUNITY!
STOPASKING FOR MONEY.
Money is merely ‘worthless wampum’! No one likes asking their friends, much less strangers, for money. (The rare volunteer who really loves doing this should be treasured as a true gift, psychoanalyzed, and then cloned.)
Your conversations are not about asking for money. They are about changing the world. (Of course it requires resources to do that.)
STARTSELLING YOUR IMPACT!
PRESENT the OPPORTUNITY…
To help with your cause and your case.
To move from success to significance.
To make an impact and change the world.
Special Note: Ask any Board Member (or, for that matter, any of your staff) if they’d rather ‘Ask for Money’ or ‘Present Opportunities’ (to make an Impact.) You already know the answer.
A big epiphany for organizations we work with continues to be – your funding plan actually is part of your case for support.
To me, the funding plan is the HOW behind the big picture dollar goal and the big picture dollar goal is what you need to deliver on your vision. So, in essence, this is HOW you will deliver on your vision. Is that important? You bet!
I’ve found that most organizations don’t have a funding plan – They haven’t done the math.
Three simple action steps to get you there:
Determine the dollar amount you need for both operations and projects. What is the lump sum? 80% of organizations can’t answer this question.
How many investments would you need and at what amounts to achieve this goal?
When? (One year? Three years? Five years?)
The funding plan does a few things as it relates to your case:
It makes it believable and achievable.
It shows a potential investor how she/he would fit into the funding vision.
It also illustrates that you’re not just picking a number out of the air – there is logic – Which gives you and your investors confidence.
Extra bonus: There are times when you can actually ask the potential investor, “Where do you see yourself in this plan?” Then, you let them select a dollar level – Something we call “The Clueless Close.”
When Apple launched the first generation iPhone in 2007 it shared a device that offered full-email, rich media, a web browser, and a phone.
Think about what they chose to call this: a phone (that does really cool stuff!)
Often times working with organizations to simplify – there is a fear that the final concept omits ANYTHING. In one of these standard group setting the original iPhone device would’ve been named the iWebMediaMailPhone!
When explaining WHAT you do, choose words people understand. Anchor the concept and THEN tell me how you’re different, cool, etc. When someone says you’re oversimplifying just point to the late genius Steve Jobs.
P.S. I downloaded the new episode of Sherlock last night. I don’t know if I would call that a TV show, or a movie, but I purchased it through iTUNES. Not the iMediaEverythingCloudStore.
Having a funding rationale answers the question: “Where does the money go?” It’s tied directly to packaging your CASE: Your Priorities and Projects and Programs, around your IMPACT.
The CASE should be all about the WHAT and HOW you will USE FUNDS to deliver your impact.
“We’ve put together a plan to scale and innovate in our three core areas – Family Literacy, Read Aloud Programs and Teen Services – that would require $1.3M over the next 1,000 days. Here’s what we would use the funds for – 1000 Families in our Literacy Program, increase 1:1 teen Mentoring by 30%, excellent data and evaluation, and 10 new school relationships.”
A few weeks ago we published “10 Action Steps to Help you Engage in 2016.” Over the next 10
weeks, we are going to use each action step as a week long theme to help you get it done!
This week’s theme is SIMPLIFY YOUR MESSAGE.
Some quick reminders and primers coming into this post:
A potential funder needs to be engaged around the message at three levels – the WHY, the WHERE (money goes) and the HOW (can help – supported by a funding rationale). Read our Altitude Framework PDF for a comprehensive look at this.
Here are eight common messaging challenges we see:
The message (engagement) starts at the wrong altitude. Engagement begins at 30,000’ – about changing, saving and impacting lives. A quick assessment of the way most ED’s are talking about the organization and you see that it’s so programmatic (think: 14,000’). We do a lot of coaching to get people up to the 30,000’-changing-the-world-level.
No simplicity. Not able to state 30,000’ on a napkin. Not able to communicate three priorities. Not able to articulate a simple funding rationale.
Special note: One way to simplify your message is through the use of visuals!
No engagement. Several times each month I look at an organization’s message and say, “That’s actually pretty damn good! I’ll bet you’re just not ENGAGING anyone with the message.” What I mean is, you don’t need to wordsmith or reframe anything. Instead, you have a message problem in that no one is actually HEARING and INTERNALIZING the message. This could be because we’re not out visiting with or it could be because we’re out talking and not LISTENING. Listening allows us to frame our message in a way that makes sense to the other person.
No funding rationale. No math or no story to support ‘the ask’. This is identifiable when we have a funding goal only and we’re either saying, “Can you give?” or we’re just picking a number out of the air. See my earlier post on 9 Types of Funding Pitches.
No WOW. Only commentary here is that most organizations DO have a WOW factor. They often don’t see it because they focus on what’s not perfect.
Story is not awesome. By this I mean your 30,000’ narrative is not representing your transcendent purpose, your BHAG, your audacity.
Framing is about the INCOME. Not the IMPACT. A common 14,000’ example. Whereas we should be communicating how ALL of our funding supports specific projects, priorities and programs we say something like, “We need funds for staff salaries… admin… overhead.” YUCK. You frame everything around your excel spreadsheet and not the PURPOSE or INTENT of the expenditure. Again: Yuck. Another example is the message that’s all about the business plan. WHY do you exist and WHAT do you hope to achieve with said business plan (around the IMPACT).
All CAUSE, no CASE. (Or, All PROBLEM, No SOLUTION.) This refers to a message that is heavy on selling me on the problem. So much so that I never really engage with the CASE – either because it’s not there, or because you’ve lost my attention. Note: Hitting all three altitude levels actually makes a simple and complete CASE FOR SUPPORT.