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.
This month’s print edition of HBR makes mention of a new study supporting ‘the purpose-profit’ connection (p32). The study looks at the relationship between strong purpose and public company financial performance. I believe the insights apply to all organizations – That is, any organization with a strong purpose will see increased performance. The study finds there is a strong link between PURPOSE and PERFORMANCE (or, in my adjusted language, IMPACT). Researchers make a distinction in two types of high purpose organizations. The first is what it calls ‘high camaraderie’ where everyone simply has a sense that they are doing something great, TOGETHER. The second type of purpose is ‘high clarity’ from management. This is noted as the type where managers excel at translating purpose into action. The statistically significant performance bump was only found with organizations that have ‘purpose clarity.’
As a leader, think not just about PURPOSE, but ‘PURPOSE CLARITY.’ To help you with this, I would bridge some of the findings of the research with some of the For Impact teaching. Think about PURPOSE as an anchor for your STORY. And, by story, I don’t mean a narrative with a beginning-middle-end. I mean how you FRAME the organization. A GREAT STORY…
Some of the writing in the research study further supports thinking about placing PURPOSE inside of STORY. “The company’s primary purpose – the real one, which isn’t necessarily the one written in the official documents or etched in the wall plaques – [that] guides its actions and decisions.”
———————– Gartenberg, Claudine Madras and Prat, Andrea and Serafeim, George, Corporate Purpose and Financial Performance (June 30, 2016). Columbia Business School Research Paper No. 16-69. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2840005
“Every really good, really experienced CEO I know shares one important characteristic: They tend to opt for the hard answer to organizational issues. If faced with giving everyone the same bonus to make things easy or with sharply rewarding performance and ruffling many feathers, they’ll ruffle the feathers. If given the choice of cutting a popular project today, because it’s not in the long-term plans or you’re keeping it around for morale purposes and to appear consistent, they’ll cut it today. Why? Because they’ve paid the price of management debt, and they would rather not do that again.” – From the Hard Thing about Hard Things by Ben Horowitz
I’ve never heard anyone talk about ‘management debt’. What a powerful concept! It smacked me between the eyes! This is a powerful frame for leaders because it puts the notion of DEBT on indecision. Decision/indecision doesn’t just have a ‘cost’; it has a ‘debt’! It allows us to ask, “What debt will I incur in NOT dealing with this tough issue?”
“Two professors who study the science of complexity—Brenda Zimmerman of York University and Sholom Glouberman of the University of Toronto—have proposed a distinction among three different kinds of problems in the world: the simple, the complicated, and the complex. Simple problems, they note, are ones like baking a cake from a mix. There is a recipe. Sometimes there are a few basic techniques to learn. But once these are mastered, following the recipe brings a high likelihood of success. Complicated problems are ones like sending a rocket to the moon. They can sometimes be broken down into a series of simple problems. But there is no straightforward recipe. Success frequently requires multiple people, often multiple teams, and specialized expertise. Unanticipated difficulties are frequent. Timing and coordination become serious concerns. Complex problems are ones like raising a child. Once you learn how to send a rocket to the moon, you can repeat the process with other rockets and perfect it. One rocket is like another rocket. But not so with raising a child, the professors point out. Every child is unique. Although raising one child may provide experience, it does not guarantee success with the next child. Expertise is valuable but most certainly not sufficient. Indeed, the next child may require an entirely different approach from the previous one. And this brings up another feature of complex problems: their outcomes remain highly uncertain. Yet we all know that it is possible to raise a child well. It’s complex, that’s all.”
I want to relate this framing to teams and dysfunction. Building and leading a team is a complex problem. Like raising a child well – “It’s complex, that’s all.” In our work at The Suddes Group, we’re often building or reconfiguring teams to create greater funding results. One of the things we’ve observed is the relationship between the simple and complex problems. When teams don’t execute on the simple problems, the complex problems are amplified.
Any funding effort is largely a function of simple problems:(more…)
Talent is a critical element for any successful team and finding the right talent is one of the top challenges facing organizations. For Impact Talent works with our clients and alumni to find and train the right talent — to lead, sell or support around a true sales model and For Impact Point of View. Periodically, we will be sharing Talent Postings with our readership.
We’re currently working with The Hunger Project to find their next U.S. Fundraising Leader, based in NYC, and are sharing this with our network to help find candidates who are passionate about sustainable international development solutions – and eager to engage a whole new group of investors to help end world hunger by 2030.
The Hunger Project is committed to the end of world hunger by 2030 – and focus their contribution in this effort on empowering communities and individuals to drive the solutions that work for them, and by partnering with like-minded groups. The Hunger Project takes a comprehensive approach – working with communities to focus on activities that will have a lasting impact on their well-being and potential.
In order to achieve this visionary – yet achievable – goal, we must significantly increase the investments made in The Hunger Project. In the United States, the biggest priority for the new US Fundraising Leader is to transform annual fundraising revenue from a static $6M to $10M and beyond over the next few years, by generating results personally and by empowering their team to succeed.
This position is meant for the leader who wants to apply their deeply relational skills and experience toward the realization of this brighter future.
For more information or to apply, contact For Impact’s Director of Talent, Jessica Gemm – email@example.com – or visit the full profile here.
Almost everyone who is looking for a senior development person or MGO (Major Gift Officer) is thinking:
“It takes a lot of money to get an ‘experienced’ Major Gift Officer …”
“I can’t pay the $80,000/$100,000 (or more) that we understand it takes to get this person.”
Bottom line: You are NOT constrained by SALARY in your search for TALENT!
Think about this creative/contrarian idea of finding TALENT at both ends of the “Talent Spectrum.” My favorite place to be looking for talent on this spectrum is on the far left or the far right. (And I’m not talking about political leanings!)
‘SUCCESS TO SIGNIFICANCE’
High Cost of Living
Make A Difference
Some thoughts on the ‘Spectrum:’
BEST & BRIGHTEST – Look on the ‘left’ end of the spectrum for incredibly passionate, excited, enthusiastic ‘BEST & BRIGHTEST!’ I would rather have two great, young, committed ‘Best & Brightest’ as Development Officers/ Major Gift Officers/Sales Staff … than an older, know everything, ‘experienced’ Development Officer. It costs the same, but I get double (triple) the coverage, usually with a much better attitude!
I look for ‘superstars.’ I love working with, coaching, mentoring the Best & Brightest. Look for young people who are unchallenged in their current job, bored, or just plain unhappy doing what they’re doing. Offer them an opportunity to MAKE A DIFFERENCE.
Seek ‘Best & Brightest’ if you’ve got a job that just requires a lot of energy, commitment, hard work, travel, etc. Don’t worry about lack of experience – think of it as no ‘baggage!’ Promise them an amazing experience, great contacts and ‘work’ days filled with challenges/meaning.
*Read Daniel Pink’s book, Drive: The Surprising Truth about What Motivates Us, on why people work. The new generation wants to be involved in something with a PURPOSE, not just a PAYCHECK! Many young people can view their work at a great For Impact organization as an upgraded internship or even as a kind of volunteer/youth service commitment!
SUCCESS TO SIGNIFICANCE – This group at the ‘right’ is a terrific RESOURCE. Their families are raised and they are ready to get out of ‘rat race’, want new challenges and would love to use their experience and talent to help change the world! We love these ‘young in spirit,’ talented Eagles and Ducks coming from the for-profit world who are aligning a change in career with purpose. This group can bring a wealth of business experience, sales and financial expertise, and just plain productivity to their position/responsibilities. If it’s the ‘right fit,’ someone at this point in life can have a HUGE impact on your organization. They are looking to get ‘re-potted’ and ‘re-energized’ around something more than work, more than a job. Yes, they still need to earn income, but many have other sources, and just want to be treated fairly. Recruit them on the MESSAGE – not the MONEY!!!
ELDERS-SAGES – There is an abundance of TALENT sitting under this category – just waiting to be asked! ELDERS-SAGES are a HUGE untapped resource for the For Impact world! Maybe not full-time, but these people bring so much wisdom, talent and life experience to the table, that they can have an amazing impact in only a few days a week or month. Look here to find wonderful, wise and (often) witty Board Members, mentors and even ‘unpaid staff.’ Elders-Sages can offer incredible TALENT for a very affordable investment, with a huge ROI. If asked, many of these ‘untapped resources will work for satisfaction/ fulfillment (vs. money!). (I’ve know some absolutely unbelievable ‘$1.00/year’ staff that put ‘paid staff’ to shame!)
Here, you’ll find people who love your cause, vision and message … a have a lot to contribute … and ‘HUNGER for these OPPORTUNITIES!!!’
Just ASK them if they are interested! Aska great Board Member who fits this profile to join you as a full-time/part-time STAFF PERSON! If ‘60 is the new 50’ then 70 and 80 are the new 60! ‘Boomers’ (millions of us) aren’t ready to retire, play golf, sit around the house, etc. We/they want to make a difference. And, it’s not about ‘money!’ They will help and even INVEST!
See Marc Freedman’s book, The Big Shift for great stuff on ’boomers’ and ‘second careers’ at For Impact organizations.
“Only one in five Americans over 55 is currently on the job …. Older Americans are wealthier, healthier and living longer …. And there is ample evidence that they ‘HUNGER’ for OPPORTUNITIES … to contribute their experience and time in meaningful ways.” America’s healthy aging population is the country’s only INCREASING NATURAL RESOURCE.”
-Marc Friedman (Prime Time)
PRIME EARNING YEARS – People ‘in the middle,’ God bless them, need a job! Their focus is often on ‘the job,’ a paycheck, supporting their family. A focus on ‘heart,’ particularly the element of ‘taking a smaller salary for work you love,’ is much tougher when you’re responsible for a family.
Look at this ‘TALENT SPECTRUM’ as a way of creatively adding great staff and volunteer leaders. I’m not suggesting you overlook all of the wonderful, talented, committed people who are in their “prime-earning years.” But don’t get caught up in thinking this is the BEST OR ONLY place to look because you need someone with X years of development experience!
Bottom line: Best & Brightest, Elders-Sages, Success to Significance. All of these are wonderful places to SEARCH FOR TALENT.
HIRE FOR ATTITUDE. TRAIN FOR SKILL (at the For Impact Boot Camp.) No more expensive hiring mistakes!
These 3 Concentric Circles represent a great way to look at your organization’s TALENT and how it might be most effectively used.
The Blue-Red-Green Team is a great visual that helps with roles and responsibilities within the Sales Process.
Use your ‘Blue’ Team to help with predisposition, open doors, and even set up the visit.Blue Team represents best example of ‘3 Degrees of Separation’ (Kevin Bacon/6 Degrees is actually less than 3 moves (2.78) from any other actor).
Note: In many cases, you are only 1 person removed from who you want to see. This is especially true in Ireland and North Dakota.
Blue Team can be engaged before the visit or after the visit.
Note: We don’t do ‘peer-to-peer’ solicitation which is just ‘trading dollars’. So, there is always a professional staff person engaged on visit.
Green Team is always the R.M. (Relationship Manager). No exceptions to this.
Red Team can help with visits, especially with phone follow-up and call backs.
This visual provided a real eureka moment for a College Sales Team: Deans can help get the visit, but the Deans don’t have to be on every visit. And they (as the Green Team) don’t have to set up every visit themselves.
Note: This framework works for a Business Sales Team as well. Share it with your Board as a nugget they might find helpful.