It’s easier to get into something than it is to get out of something.
This isn’t something most people think about, but upon hearing, say, “Yeah, isn’t that the truth!?” This is a human insight with implications for anything we start – like a new partnership, position, or program.
In the natural world, it has a parallel with Newton’s first law of motion: An object in motion tends to stay in motion.
And, while the insight would seem to be a caution about jumping into things quickly, I think of it more as a law of human behavior. For instance, with a new program commitment we might want to think about the exit strategy – in case it’s needed. For a new funding relationship it means we should (often) be less concerned with getting a maximized gift commitment and maybe just focus on getting a new prospect ‘in’ and committed to our work (at any level).
Set your intent at the start of a visit. In conjunction with strong predisposition, an INTENT will help you TRANSITION throughout the conversation and DRIVE toward an ask. Stating intent could be as simple as outlining the FLOW for the visit, “Thanks for taking time to visit with us today. As George shared, we’re hoping to connect with people that really have a similar passion for helping youth. What we would like to do is take a few minutes to get to know you [the OPEN]. We would like to share a little bit about what we’re doing [the STORY]. And, then, if it’s okay, we would love to talk about ways to help [the ASK / Presenting the Opportunity].”
When they’re not able to navigate the ‘flow-of-the-visit,’ Development Officers have a hard time transitioning to the ask. It’s as though they are waiting to be invited to have a discussion about how the prospect can help. In a broader and universal sense, any discussion is more productive when framed by a clear intent. As a reminder, here is the framework we use to illustrate the ‘The Flow of the Visit.’
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.
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!”
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?
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.
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
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:
When building a strategy ask this question, “What would it look like to maximize this relationship?”
Maximize relationships at this given moment
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:
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:
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.
I’ve just returned from a trip to Ireland. I had a number of great meetings with social entrepreneurs and conversations about ‘social entrepreneurship’.
In Ireland and certainly here in the states, I think Social Entrepreneurship still represents TWO frames. The first is having to do with earned income. (I’m reposting thoughts from 2008 below)
The second frame is more broad. It represents the entrepreneurial attitude for change or impact. It’s this second definition that I like and it’s also this second frame that is starting to define the social sector. Go to a nonprofit conference and notice the average age. Then go to a similar conference organized for ‘social entrepreneurs’ and again, note the average age.
We’re obviously fans of the social entrepreneurship because the very term invites challenging thinking and norms. That being said, I don’t think one room (or conference) is superior to another in terms of commitment or values. It’s worth noting that the conversation-at-large is generationally shifting. If it weren’t for the IRS I could argue that in 30 years we might not have a ‘non profit sector’; it might become the ‘social (entrepreneurship) sector’.
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:
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:
Download and use the LCB Visual above
Send me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) and let me know how you’re using it.
And, email me if you want to talk about how we can facilitate this process for you and your organization.