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Daily Nuggets: A For Impact Blog

The Funding Roadmap: Align Your Story, Team and Sales Process


The For Impact Funding Roadmap has been built, tested, and refined in working with thousands of organizations to raise over $2Billion. Though each organization is unique, we believe the Roadmap has universal application – Whether you’re a startup, a college running a large campaign, or an international NGO – every funding initiative needs a STORY, a TEAM, and a FUNDING PROCESS.
[Download the PDF.]

Here are some quick thoughts on the Roadmap. [We’re also leading a teleseminar this Tuesday with more explanation, examples and help to APPLY the Funding Road Map to your funding. Register here.]

Design your STORY

The funding roadmap begins with STORY.  A great story is anchored in hope-filled purpose, simplifies what you do, and serves as a litmus for action.

  1. Simplify your MESSAGE. Message is what people HEAR, not what you SAY. What do we want people to HEAR? Ultimately, this should be a message about CHANGING, SAVING, or IMPACTING lives.
  2. Create your FUNDING RATIONALE. A Funding Rationale is why you need the money, and what you will do with money. Another way of thinking about this is around defining the ask. (Most organizations don’t have a good ‘ask’.)
  3. Design your PRESENTATION. The ‘ASK’ is an experience. We actually stop to think about the complete experience, from predisposition, to the environment, to the materials.

Really important point about STORY. This is not just a ‘funding thing’ – It guides your IMPACT and provides MEANING for your TEAM.  Organizations so often enter a cycle of strategic planning – I wish there was a norm to enter into a cycle of STORY planning!

Develop your TEAM

Jim Collins says, “First WHO, then WHAT.”  With our Funding Roadmap we might say, “First WHY, then WHO, then WHAT!”  

  1. Commit to SALES.  Every organization needs to STOP and make a commitment to sales. What does this mean for your team? For your organization? For your strategy/resources?  
  2. Engage LEADERSHIP.  Leadership needs to be bought into the STORY and likely even the source of the STORY. Leadership also needs to be bought into the model.  
  3. Model TEAM SELLING.  This is about defining roles and responsibilities for staff, board and champions.  

    Important note: In a true sales model, your board is not responsible for fundraising! In a true sales model there is a role for board members that is very different from saying they are responsible for fundraising.

FUND your VISION

  1. Identify/ Prioritize/ Strategize your PROSPECTS.  Prospects. Drive. Everything.
    There is a lot to say on prospects (that’s why we have a whole guidebook) but here are some key points:

    • Focus on your top prospects
    • Focus ‘top-down’
    • Present the Opportunity (And don’t make decisions for your prospects!)
    • When building a strategy ask this question, “What would it look like to maximize this relationship?”
    • Maximize relationships at this given moment
  2. Just VISIT. In the words of the prolific sales trainer, Brian Tracy, “Spend more time with better prospects.” We’ve been teaching this for years. There is so much value in the old maxim, “JUST SHOW UP.”
    The visit is the entire context for the ASK. It has three parts:

    • Predisposition
    • The Presentation
    • Follow-up
  3. Just ASK. This is kind of an alpha/omega to everything we teach.

Finally, it’s worth tying this all together as it relates to the For Impact Point of View:

Impact Drives Income.  

Impact is about your STORY.  

You need a PROCESS to make the INCOME happen.  

And, PEOPLE drive everything!

Maximizing Relationships Requires a Funding Rationale


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:

  1. 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?”
  2. 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.

You Need to Have a Clear Answer to This One Question


When a Qualified Prospect asks, “How can I help?” you need to have a clear answer.

The fact that most organizations don’t have a clear answer is one of the biggest funding challenges in the ‘not-for-profit sector.’

I’ve heard many default responses that fall into these categories:

  • “I’ll get back to you.”  The fundraiser then heads back to the office, calls a meeting and says, “Prospect X is willing to help! What should we ask for?”  The team then makes up something that they think might be most attractive.
  • “Maybe you could come to our event?” The moves management route… “Would you consider joining our board?” Or [insert other ‘move.’] The prospect has already ASKED how they can help – You need an answer, not a chess gambit!
  • “How do YOU want to help?”  This is just a weak way of engaging.  I think too many in this sector are afraid of coming off as too aggressive if they answer truthfully.  If you are authentically representing your IMPACT, and they have asked to help, then it is your responsibility to Present the Opportunity.

In self-assessments, most organizations can identify challenges with prospecting, messaging or board support. But rarely do they say, “Everyone always asks me how they can help… And I don’t have a clear answer!”

Simply bringing attention to this could have a tremendous impact.

On my last three visits I’ve heard this from prospects, verbatim:

  • “Tell me concretely, how I can help.”
  • “I’m not ready to make a commitment today, but what do you need?”
  • From a foundation: “What’s a way we can be most helpful to this work?”

Here are some ideas and resources to help you answer the question “How can I help?” – all of which fall under our Just Ask! philosophy:

  1. Have a simple (major gift level) ask that works in every situation with every person.  

    We’re a big fan of the Leadership Circle for this reason. It represents your simplest ask around the most compelling (and general) areas of your case. It’s not used to maximize a relationship, but it offers a clear answer.

    E.g. “Our Leadership Circle is a group of people – like you – who GET the mission and are invested in our cause at the $10,000 level. Collectively, all the Leadership Circle members generate $1M a year that’s used for unbudgeted and timely priorities. Would you be willing to join?”

  2. Use the “Champion-Invite-Invest” framework.

    This is a great way of making the ask multidimensional.  On its own it’s no more clear than ‘give or get,’ however, you can use the framework to ask for specific help as a champion… specific referrals… and specific opportunities for investment.  (Watch 3 minute video.) 
  3. Develop a specific ask around a project, priority or plan.  

    This allows you to ask for support around a specific project (and corresponding funding number) OR a funding plan.  (Watch 3 minute video.)

In order to ‘Just Ask’ you need to HAVE an ask.

LCB: A Framework to Create a Clear Message, Engage Others and Build Funding Momentum


We use a Leadership Consensus Building (LCB) framework on nearly every project. At the highest level, this is a versatile framework to:

  • Create clarity around vision, message, priorities and plan,
  • Get others ‘on board’ with these elements, and
  • Build (funding) momentum.

This visual illustrates the LCB Framework:

fi_LCB-800

 

I often describe Leadership Consensus Building as similar to coalition-building – You’re bringing people together around an idea, cause or vision and creating priorities, goals and buy-in. A natural result of this process is that everyone becomes invested in the outcome!

Leadership Consensus Building can be used in many ways and can help with these specific challenges:

  • Getting a board ‘on board.’ Think about strategically engaging each board member one-on-one (or in small groups) as part of this framework. (This is much better than holding a retreat and herding cats.) And, you can use a team gathering to start or conclude the process – We often do this in the form of a Vision Day!
  • Determining (funding) priorities. We often employ the framework to help with organizational development and strategic planning – facilitating this process to engage key leaders and stakeholders, listen to key issues and keep framing toward a common goal. The framework is essential to effective strategic planning with a team.
  • Predisposing prospects for campaign funding. This a great way to test and strengthen your message with your best prospects. Depending on the prospect you can say, with authenticity, “We want you to be our lead funder on this so it makes sense to sit down and talk through the priorities and plan well in advance of that conversation.”
  • Testing feasibility math. Leadership Consensus Building is about engaging key stakeholders with a working version of your message, model and math. It brings ‘to the market’ a real message and plan for discussion – versus a hypothetical! This is an alternative to a traditional feasibility study which means you can be…
  • Building funding momentum (while you figure out ‘the next big thing.’) I see too many teams who are waiting to engage in a funding conversation until _____ . While you get stakeholders on board with a vision and plan, this framework allows you to be sharing a future project AND asking for a commitment for a CURRENT project.


Because we spend so much time teaching this to leaders, I’m going to record a seminar on the subject this Tuesday, June 14, 2016. Blog readers can participate for free – More info and registration. On the call, I will walk through this visual and illustrate how it can be used in various ways, giving examples you can model.
Actions:

  1. Download and use the LCB Visual above
  2. Send me an email (nick@forimpact.flywheelsites.com) and let me know how you’re using it.
  3. And, email me if you want to talk about how we can facilitate this process for you and your organization.

Do the Math to Simplify Your Funding Story


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 DO THE MATH.

Doing the Math means owning and internalizing an understanding of your numbers. Your numbers tell an important part of your story.

Doing the Math also means taking the time to simplify the numbers in a way that others – Your board, your prospects and your staff – can understand.

In our For Impact World you must:

DO THE ‘BLUE‘ MATH around your Cause and Case and Impact. i.e. How many people/families/students/patients/kids do you impact? Or how many people/families/students/patients/kids NEED this impact?

DO THE ‘RED’ MATH around your Staff, People and Operations.
i.e., What are the people or operational costs associated with delivering your current or desired impact?

And DO THE ‘GREEN’ MATH around your Income, Funding Plan, Goals, etc.
i.e, What is your total need for the year or next 1,000 days based on the BLUE and RED and how will you get there?

Note: Here is a list of questions you can ask your CFO or CEO to get the information you need for math.

Next, use this Math to frame your Funding Rationales. Funding Rationales help to answer your Prospect’s question, “What do you need from me?” and help you get ‘numbers on the table’ tied to a Person, a Program, a Project or a Funding Plan. For example:

A unit of Impact.

One of the simplest ways to do your math is around a Unit of Impact – A Person, A Student, A Family, A Village, A Patient – You get the idea. Quick math:

You can use this math to ask a prospect, “Can you help us by underwriting 10 students this year?” or “How many students would you like to underwrite this year?”

Your Gap, or even better, the cost of EXTRAORDINARY Impact.

Gap math is a common way to do your math and simplify a funding rationale.

 

 

I recently worked with a fantastic Hospice organization who refuses to talk about the gap and instead asks prospects to fund Extraordinary Care for every family. This Hospice has (fluctuating) revenues from reimbursements, but they don’t cover everything. This is where philanthropy comes in – For $1000 you can underwrite Extraordinary Care for one of the 3000 families they serve each year.

The true cost of programs.

This is a big one. Organizations frequently underestimate the true cost to deliver a program, which is essential to a funding rationale. Knowing the real numbers boosts confidence in the ask and helps the funder buy in. You can ask someone to underwrite part or all of the program.

Along with the previous point, you can do the math to tie programming costs to impact in multiple ways. Here’s a clean and simple example to illustrate the concept using the example above. The Read Aloud Program impacts 1600 Kindergarteners and their families (80 classrooms/20 students per class at 40 schools.) You can do the math to create simple funding rationales:

$80,000 to underwrite the program for one year, or;
$2,000 per school, or;
$1,000 per class, or;
$50 per student.

Funding a Project or Priority.

This is commonly used with a ‘campaign mindset’ – projects or priorities that have a larger funding goal than some of the examples above. Casting a vision, packaging up three year Priorities or Projects and then understanding a dollar amount/funding rationale for each.

For example, “As we discussed, our vision is to be there for every family who needs Hospice Care in this community. Part of achieving that plan is to secure a Hospice House where we can care for people who can no longer stay at home, or have no home. Can we talk to you about being part of this plan?”

or

“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 of the next 1,000 days. Here’s what we would use the funds for – 1000 Families in Literacy Program, increase 1:1 teen Mentoring by 30%, excellent data and evaluation, 5-10 new school relationships…”

(more…)

Find those who care about your CAUSE, then sell your CASE.


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 BUILD YOUR FUNDING RATIONALE.

Cause: Your reason for existence. The big problem you’re trying to solve or change.

Case: Your approach. Your model. The way in which you impact the CAUSE.

Think about the the difference between CAUSE and CASE.

When you’re with people that already understand the CAUSE you must engage them with your CASE. (See Use the Rule of 3 to Simplify at 14,000′)

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.
For example:

“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.”

Creating Great Funding Rationales


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 BUILD YOUR FUNDING RATIONALE.

In this video we cover the ‘Last 3 Feet’ tied to Creating Great Funding Rationales (hint: “Unrestricted” does not make a great Funding Rationale!)

  • Create a Funding Rationale tied to a Unit of Impact if possible – “Our goal is to underwrite all 3000 of our families each year at $1500 per family. How many families can you help support?”
  • Package up your Programs – “Here is the Impact we’d like to have in each community and it will take about $100,000 per community to make it happen.”
  • Use a Leadership Circle membership goal as it relates to the Opportunity to Save, Change and Impact Lives – “When we have 50 members in our Leadership Society (@$10,000+ per year) it allows us to innovate new programs and provide core support to existing impact. It also allows us to move quickly when needed – To save and change more lives.”

Previous video in this sequence: Using Altitude to develop your Presentation.

How to Create a Funding Rationale Tied to Impact


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 BUILD YOUR FUNDING RATIONALE.

Essentially there are three ways to create a funding rationale – the three P’s. You can ask someone to invest in:

A PERSON

It would be more accurate to refer to this final rationale as a ‘unit’ but then I would lose alliteration. You can do the math to figure out the cost to impact one student, one class, one session, one exhibit, one visitor, etc. This could be a total cost or a ‘gap cost.’

A PROGRAM

This could include seed funds to launch a program, sponsorship for a program or gap funding for a program. The cost of the program is set against the impact of the program – You’re selling the impact of the program.

A PLAN

Commonly used with the ‘campaign mindset.’ Cast your vision, attach a dollar amount, articulate a funding plan then ask someone to be a piece of the plan.

You can use one, two or all three – but you must HAVE a simple funding rationale:

“Could you sponsor a classroom? (or 5?)”

“Could you underwrite the program this year and next?”

“Could we ask you to take the lead on this plan?”

8 Common Messaging Challenges


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:

  • Message is what is HEARD, not necessarily what you SAY. (Read: What’s in a Message?)
  • 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.

Video Nugget: Creating Great Funding Rationales


Previous video in this sequence: Using Altitude to develop your Presentation.

In this video we cover the ‘Last 3 Feet’ tied to Creating Great Funding Rationales (hint: “Unrestricted” does not make a great Funding Rationale!)

  • Create a Funding Rationale tied to a Unit of Impact if possible – “Our goal is to underwrite all 3000 of our families each year at $1500 per family. How many families can you help support?”
  • Package up your Programs – “Here is the Impact we’d like to have in each community and it will take about $100,000 per community to make it happen.”
  • Use a Leadership Circle membership goal as it relates to the Opportunity to Save, Change and Impact Lives – “When we have 50 members in our Leadership Society (@$10,000+ per year) it allows us to innovate new programs and provide core support to existing impact. It also allows us to move quickly when needed – To save and change more lives.”