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’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.
The lore of the elevator pitch comes from the early days of Hollywood when one would hope to trap an executive in an elevator and ‘pitch.’ The Elevator Pitch is an enduring shorthand that represents the simplest description of what you do.
You need brevity and simplicity… but simplicity alone is not your goal! Your goal is to get the other person to say, “I get it!” or “I want to learn more!”
The Elevator Pitch is dead. What we aim for is Elevator Engagement.
We achieve our goal more effectively and efficiently if we focus on the two-way (engagement) and not the one-way (pitch). Instead of spewing for 20-60 seconds (even if succinct), think about one great question you can ask the other person to get them ENGAGED in a conversation.
At our boot camps we do an exercise to illustrate that you can actually communicate WAYYYY more in 60 seconds by simply asking one or two questions than you can by talking (however concise you may be). It works because:
In asking a question, you start with the other person’s construct (or gestalt!).
We become fully engaged when we are talking. So, the simple act of getting the other person to talk changes the level of engagement. (This is Dale Carnegie 101!)
If you start with a question, you immediately learn what is pertinent and non-pertinent. You can use a short amount of time on relevant information.
Finally, we can position our work in their words. LISTENING is one of the most powerful selling skills in the world.
Earlier this year we were helping an organization make a neuroscience pitch to a foundation. The executive director was asked to appear before the foundation board and ‘make a pitch’. We had to reprogram her default, one-way pitch, to instead starting with a question to the panel of eight. She simply asked, “Has anyone ever had experience with a stroke, or a family member that’s had a stroke?” The board chair raised his hand and then spent two minutes talking about the importance of neuroscience research. Others jumped in. They were engaged — fully.
The executive director was able to simply build on the conversation. Though she had eight slides prepared, she found she only needed to use three of them (in response to the conversation). The board said it was one of the best pitches they had ever received – that’s because she didn’t pitch; she engaged.
She was awarded the grant!
Nota bene: There are many circles (usually tied to funding communities, e.g., silicon valley and nyc / financial) where a ‘pitch-deck’ is standard affair. Don’t let the ‘pitch deck’ put you in ‘pitch mode.’ As in the neuroscience story, you should focus on engagement. And, of course, we’re partial to the one-page pitch deck!
This is an excerpt from the forthcoming For Impact Guidebook about Leadership Circles.
Every organization should have some form of Leadership Circle. In its simplest form, this is ONE baseline-major-gift level of support, positioned as the cornerstone of your annual fund. The Leadership Circle is not just another giving level – It’s a funding program and a strategic pillar of your funding model that qualifies prospects, simplifies stewardship, provides flexible funding and annuity! You’ve heard of Occam’s Razor; this is ‘Occam’s Ask’. It’s set at ONE level between $1K and $10K – messaged around your mission and vision in a way that represents your simplest and strongest sell.
HOW TO MESSAGE: (Examples)
STORY: “We would like to invite you to be part of the Leadership Circle – a group of 100 families, individuals and/or businesses that are extremely committed to the mission of the YWCA. Membership requires a minimum $10,000 investment in the fund, renewable annually. Each year, these funds will be used to make the biggest impact in the areas of after school programming, innovation and scholarships. But, ultimately,The Leadership Circle is about investing in our vision to transform our community.”
COLLECTIVE IMPACT: “This Leadership Circle level is significant because the collective power of its members – providing the core funding support that allows the YWCA to be an efficient organization, responding to the most important needs of women and families in our community. Additionally, this Leadership Circle has the impact of $2M in endowment for each 10 members.”
In working with over 1,000 organizations, I can’t think of a time when an organization didn’t benefit from a Leadership Circle. As a tool, its versatility rivals duct tape.
A FEW WAYS TO USE THE LEADERSHIP CIRCLE:
As a QUALIFIER. The Leadership Circle can be a GREAT ASK on a first visit. The story around the Leadership Circle should be tied to your simplest and strongest sell and if someone commits the $10K then you KNOW they are serious about your impact.
As a component of your overall FUNDING MODEL and CASE. It’s helpful for top funders to see that you’re building a base. This should offset the perception (and reality) that you’re going back to the well with the same funders again and again. It’s really helpful to be able to show (in your plan) that at the same time you are asking for LEADERSHIP SUPPORT, you are also building giving-based-relationships through the Leadership Circle.
As a MOMENTUM BUILDER. If you’re working on leadership support for a major project the Leadership Circle can be a powerful momentum builder. It’s one thing to go to your board and announce you THINK you will have some leaders on board. It’s another to back that up with the cash flow and commitments from 20 new memberships in your Leadership Circle.
As an ANNUITY and ENDOWMENT EQUIVALENT. The membership base of support becomes an annuity. For example, 20 families at $10K is $200K per year which is the equivalent of having $4M in endowment!
As a FOCUSED way to TEST and BUILD TALENT. Having a Leadership Circle offers a safety valve for new salespeople. “When you don’t know what else to do, ask for a membership.” This is a clarifying directive. Asking for a membership does not eliminate the potential for a larger gift – if anything it qualifies the relationship (offering objective insight to the sales manager.) If a new major gifts officer fails to close a $1M gift it could be for a number of reasons. Maybe it’s a prospecting issue. Maybe it’s the story. However, anyone should be able to close Leadership Circle membership. Having developed dozens and dozens of new major gifts officers, I cannot emphasize the importance of this idea. It’s the simplest way to build confidence and funding momentum.
As an engagement strategy that PAYS. ‘Nuff said.
As a STEWARDSHIP CIRCLE. Get rid of all events and focus that energy on just providing stewardship and thanks to your Leadership Circle investors! Here is an idea, make it someone’s job to simply get every member of the Leadership Circle to your organization to SEE the impact (return-on-investment) in a given year. Good things will happen.
As ‘BUDGET RELIEF.’ Everyone wants ‘unrestricted funding’. A better message would be around budget relief. I would encourage you to try and create a funding model in which the Leadership Circle monies are unbudgeted. You can then report back to membership the IMPACT of their COLLECTIVE investment.
As a way to get into a PLANNED GIFT. Participation in the Leadership Circle for a few years offers a rationale to get ask for a planned gift to PROTECT the annual gift. “You’ve been giving $10K every year as a member of the Leadership Circle. Could we ask you to PROTECT that with a gift from your estate?” A $200K planned gift would ‘protect’ the $10K. Bonus: This can also be part of a TRIPLE ASK.
Fundraising on a Napkin summarizes 30 years of fundraising achievement into simple, bold and actionable ideas that any organization can use – Non Profit, For Profit, Social Entrepreneur or NGO.
Whether you’re looking for strategic clarity, ‘sustainable funding,’ a jumpstart in major giving or just no-fluff advice that works – Fundraising on a Napkin delivers on all fronts. Over 3.5 hours, we will share stories ‘from the field’ and the successful and innovative ideas that have transformed thousands of organizations and raised over $2B, including:
How to get strategic clarity
How to simplify your message and communicate the vision
How to find and engage with great leaders, prospects and champions
How to build a high performing leadership team
How to build an effective culture around funding the vision
How to ask
This high energy, motivating session will give you a road map you can follow to re-design (or design) your organization for impact and income success.
WHAT TO EXPECT
Example-based coaching throughout the day
Lots of interaction so you don’t get bored – this is not one of ‘those’ workshops
Proven frameworks and, to the extent that we’re able with time, one-on-one strategy to help you apply the frameworks
No power point (see no. 2) but lots of visuals
Simplicity. Complexity is not actionable, so we give you the tools that will have the greatest R.O.I. to your organization in the near term (next 100 days) and longer term (next 1000 days.)
Value that goes beyond funding! We’re all entrepreneurs, so while we always want to create value in the form of funding results, there is a huge personal development theme to everything we do.
WHO SHOULD ATTEND
This workshop is for Executive Directors, Board Leaders and Development Professionals – Any and all responsible for shaping and implementing funding strategy.
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.
We’re big on the need to have one Master Prospect List! A great MPL rates and ranks your entire pool of Qualified Prospects/Relationships in descending order or importance. However, deciding who you’re going to see first is very different from simply starting at the top of your Master Prospect List and working your way down.
Instead, begin like Archimedes on his best day by trying to LEVERAGE your commitments – building on each visit and commitment as you move along.
Here’s a great way to think about ordering your visits: ‘MO-COs,’ ‘LEAD-COs’ and ‘CO-COs’.
MO-COs are MOMENTUM COMMITMENTS.
These commitments are not necessarily about magnitude or size but rather ‘COMMENSURATE’… ‘SURPRISE’… ‘STRETCH’ gifts. These are the ‘EARLY ADOPTERS’ who get it, buy in, and provide the MOMENTUM to get going. In Good To Great, Jim Collins’ would call these ‘FLYWHEEL’ commitments. In order to get a FLYWHEEL moving at the beginning, it takes a lot of energy. But once there is some MOMENTUM… the wheel flies!
LEAD-CO’s are LEADERSHIP COMMITMENTS.
LEADERSHIP can literally TRANSFORM the organization, the campaign or the project. These are ‘Top of the Pyramid’ lead gifts that prove that our best prospects and investors have stepped up and give everyone the confidence needed to make the campaign or project happen.
“LEADERS LEAD.” – Bob Werner
Thanks to my friend Bob, a big time Mensch and Jewish philanthropic superstar, for the quote. I believe that success (or failure) is a direct result of LEADERS LEADING. If no one steps up as the INTERNAL leader, a campaign is doomed from the get go. If you can’t find at least one EXTERNAL leader or CHAMPION, it ain’t gonna happen either. (My preference is 3 CHAMPIONS.)
If leaders are not ENGAGED and PASSIONATE, then it becomes ‘The Suddes Group Campaign’ or ‘The Executive Director’s Campaign’, etc. Tom Mucks, another successful former Suddes Group partner, says, simply: “Passion and commitment from LEADERSHIP will overcome all obstacles.”
CO-CO’S are CONNECTOR COMMITMENTS.
Going after some of your most important ‘CONNECTORS’ early on is a terrific strategy to not only get their financial commitment (which may or may not be significant) but also to generate REFERRALS and STRATEGY on getting visits with your best prospects.
SPECIAL NOTE ON REFERRALS AND 3º OF SEPARATION:
Remember you are only 3º away from any QUALIFIED PROSPECT!! (Forget Kevin Bacon and his 6º – It’s actually been determined that it’s 2.78 ‘moves’/connections between Bacon and all other actors.) CONNECTORS and other NATURAL PARTNERS allow you to be one or two CONTACTS away from your best prospects. This is very, very important! Realizing you are only 3º away from ANYBODY who is a QUALIFIED PROSPECT lets you use your NATURAL PARTNERS (Champions, Board Members, Key Volunteer Leaders, Current Investors) to get you there.
Extra Special Note: I am only 3º away from the Pope, the President and the Prime Minister of Israel. And, I’m only 2º away from the Dalai Lama! How? Because of my CONNECTIONS and RELATIONSHIPS, I can get to ‘someone’ who can get to ‘someone’ who can get to the Pope, the President and the Prime Minister.
Teleseminars are a way for us to offer valuable training to our For Impact Community – in a short, ‘call in from anywhere’ format. Join us this Tuesday and Wednesday for two of our most popular topics:
The story you use to maximize funding…
The story that brings rockstar talent to your doorstep and fully engages your team…
The story that you tell yourself every day to stay focused and fulfilled.
Story adds passion, purpose and urgency to your message, plan and every day actions.
Is your story about needing more money? Or changing lives?
Do you have a good story that helps get to the ask?
Do we have a story that engages the board? Engaging them as passionate champions and advocates?
This 45 minute teleseminar will:
Share examples of stories used at organizations to help them with these questions.
Address common challenges to funding, action and engagement.
Give you several actionable tools use can use to DISCOVER your story and make it AWESOME.