For Impact


Binary v. Analog and STARTING a development operation

Funding Principles | | Nick Fellers

This is an excerpt from an email I just fired off to one of last week’s boot camp attendees. Her organization has a $5M operating budget – mostly covered by government funds. They are ‘new to fundraising’. I’ve encouraged them to focus on the process of making visits — to get the funds flowing and then focus on a bigger plan for $1M/ $5M or $10M (whatever the goal is). This is in contrast to most orgs where I would encourage them to identify a funding goal and work backwards (doing the math).

Binary v. Analog. Right now your goal is to start fundraising. It’s not to generate $10Million (that’s the vision). In other words, it’s more about getting out a process and success around bringing in gifts (binary) at $10K+ than it is raising $3M v. $4M (analog).

Once you get the process going and you have some comfort, a process and some traction I would then take a step back and look (again) at the big picture and put together a funding plan for the bigger goal. Right now an organization like [ORG] doesn’t know what it can and can’t do… everything’s a guess. I’m okay with that. To your team though, it ‘feels like a guess’ — that makes it more difficult to act on.

Just like a runner would – get in the habit of running, then choose a marathon training program. Start running (binary) then get strategic and adding distance (analog).

With that in mind, in your case I would not focus on the HUGE BIG NUMBER. I would focus on your PURPOSE and the MODEL (still three buckets) and then a goal to get 100 members in the LEADERSHIP SOCIETY. The message could be around $2,500+ — the cost to deliver the model to one family. You could ask for more by asking people to underwrite X families.

I use the Binary v. Analog all the time — especially to frame a goal. For instance, some times the goal is to get a prospect IN (invested) NOW. It’s not about trying to get $100K v. $140K.