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Daily Nuggets: A For Impact Blog

To Be In A Campaign Or Not To Be In A Campaign – That Is NOT The Question

“When should we start the campaign?”

I spent Wednesday morning with the board and leadership from an 11-year old private school. They had asked me to help them facilitate the answer to this question. Some of the board members wanted to start months ago and others wanted to wait – for the economy, for planning, for a variety of reasons.

More than a ‘timing thing’ it was a ‘perspective thing’. Some leadership said, “We need to be having conversations NOW.” Other leaders didn’t want to budge until all the stars were aligned.

The debate is not unique. “When do we pull the trigger?”

I think this is the WRONG question and so it’s going to be hard getting consensus on an answer. So, for you and for this board, I want to RE-FRAME the issue.

Some more about this school:

    • K-12 Catholic – on East Coast.
    • About 200 students – enrollment steady.
    • Tuition @ $12,500 (just raised 10%).
    • Gifted 100 acres on which to build a new school. Currently have something of a duct-taped campus that spans the creative use of three church spaces.
    • A ‘phased-approach’ to the building would require about $6M to functionally move all students to the new location.


Take a Quantum Leap

I first assembled these thoughts as an intro to the For Impact Campaign Manifesto. Re-listed here and in a PDF for download, these QUANTUM LEAP ideas are powerful. I hope they push eliminate the bountries of traditional campaign thinking.


  1. Quantum Leap Thinking by James J. Mapes.
  2. You 2: A High Velocity Formula for Multiplying Your Personal Effectiveness in QUANTUM LEAPS by Price Pritchett.
  3. Taking the QUANTUM LEAP: The New Physics for Nonscientists
    by Fred Wolf.

QUANTUM PHYSICS is described as the

“most powerful science ever conceived by human beings.”


“explosive jump that a particle of matter undergoes in moving from one place to another.”


‘exponential jumps’ in your impact and your income.
(NOT about kaizen, tweaking, OR 3% to 5% growth tied to the adjusted cost of living or tuition increases!)

QUANTUM LEAPS are like taking any BIG Jump.

You don’t focus on the ‘middle’ of the jump…
but where you want to land!!!

QUANTUM LEAPS are NOT about ‘trying harder!’

Trying harder produces only INCREMENTAL GAINS not QUANTUM LEAPS.
(Physicists studying Quantum Mechanics note that particles make these ‘jumps’ without apparent effort and without covering all the bases between the starting and ending point!)

QUANTUM LEAPS never happen by doing the same thing you’re doing now.

Price Pritchett says, “Be ruthless about trying something different. Conventional growth comes because we think along conventional lines.”

QUANTUM LEAP means violating the BOUNDARY of the ‘PROBLEM.’

This means giving yourself permission to dream and to risk.

QUANTUM LEAPS come when you seek the elegant solutions.

Look for an approach characterized by SIMPLICITY, PRECISION and NEATNESS.

QUANTUM LEAPS allow you to do MORE with LESS!

Less resources. Less people. Less money.

The paradox: This creates MORE resources, MORE people and MORE money.

QUANTUM LEAPS are NOT about the ‘how to’.

Skip the ‘detail’. The answers will come to you. When they do, you’ll probably find them to be simple, streamlined solutions.

QUANTUM LEAPS are tied to BHAGs.

Price Pritchett reinforces Jim Collin’s thoughts on Big Hairy Audacious Goals. They’re not Big Hairy Audacious Goals if you’re GUARANTEED that you can reach them! Pritchett says that if you have the ANSWERS and STRUCTURES and CERTAINTY UP FRONT… It’s NOT a QUANTUM LEAP!

A QUANTUM LEAP by definition, means

moving into unchartered territory with NO GUIDE to follow.
You personally draw the map as you go. (In this case, however, I’d like to offer a GUIDE. You can still draw.)

QUANTUM LEAPS require you to take the OFFENSIVE.

You can’t achieve exponential gains from a defensive posture, a passive stance.


FAILURE is a sign of PROGRESS! It means you’ve left the safety of the status quo. Failure is a resource. It helps you find the edge of your capacities. (If you send a rocket toward the moon, 90% of the time it’s OFF COURSE; it ‘fails’ its way to the moon by continually making mistakes and correcting them. Therefore, fail fast.)


‘GETTING READY’ (research, fancy brochures, etc.) is a stalling tactic, an act of anxiety.

You don’t ‘prepare’ for a QUANTUM LEAP…
You MAKE IT, and then you frame out
the DETAILS and STRATEGY on the way!


“SUCCESS is going from FAILURE to FAILURE with no loss of ENTHUSIASM.” —Winston Churchill
“We need to FAIL in order to SUCCEED. Our only decision is HOW TO FAIL.
By not going far enough… or going too far. I prefer the latter.”
– Harriet Rubin

No More Feasibility Studies

This nugget is an excerpt from from Tom’s Campaign Book.

Image of Campaign Book

No More Feasibility Studies

Having watched hundreds (maybe even thousands) of ‘nonprofits’ do feasibility studies… I still don’t get it!

INTERNAL staff gets together. Agree they need more money. INTERNAL group decides to do a campaign to raise more money. INTERNAL leaders enlist EXTERNAL consultants to do a feasibility study… for justification, CYA and backup.

Think about this ‘feasibility’ scenario:

  • No Sharing of the Vision
  • No Engagement
  • No Dialogue
  • No Involvement
  • No Presentation of an Opportunity

From the ‘consultant’ to the ‘prospect’:

If ‘XYZ NONPROFIT ORG’ were to do a HYPOTHETICAL Campaign with a HYPOTHETICAL goal… how much HYPOTHETICAL money would you HYPOTHETICALLY give to this HYPOTHETICAL Campaign?

One alternative to consider is true LEADERSHIP CONSENSUS BUILDING

Get your top stakeholders INVOLVED in the building of the PLAN… for both IMPACT and INCOME!!!

This OWNERSHIP will translate into a huge return on the time, energy and resources you INVEST in the process.

I’ve chosen these three words carefully, and used this process effectively for the last 25 years.

  1. LEADERSHIP. It is what it is. It is what is says. Engage your best LEADERS in the process of message clarification, prioritization and the funding plan.

  2. CONSENSUS. CONSENSUS is about the RIGHT DECISION… Not (necessarily) about ‘unanimous’ agreement on a politically correct, watered down, something-for-everyone mission statement/plan. CONSENSUS (on Vision/Priorities/Goals) creates commitment… generates momentum… and forces engagement (vs. passive participation).

    Nota Bene: “PASSION IS CONTAGIOUS!” (Nick Fellers)

  3. BUILDING. This is the kicker. This is the ‘action word’ that makes this idea worth millions! You must provide a framework to let your stakeholders help build.

    *This approach also serves as the most powerful form of PREDISPOSITION.

Architects & Designers Work For You!

I’m always amazed at the relationship between For Impact Organizations with large building initiatives and their architects/designers/master planners.

Nick and I are working closely with five or six of these situations right now. The biggest lesson we try to communicate is that the ARCHITECT/DESIGNER/MASTER PLANNERS work for you… not the other way around!

What does this mean? It means you’re in charge. It’s your project. Be an entrepreneur. Don’t get railroaded into spending 3x (3 times) the dollars for a 2x (2 times) the space… when 1x (1 time) the need is the right answer!

There has to be some oversight. There has to be some thinking. There has to be some guidance given. There has to be some match to constituent CAPACITY.

At a meeting Monday night, a really smart board member who also happens to be a real estate developer with national projects, made the point that real estate and building decisions come down to these 3 things.


Figure out how you can apply those 3 things when you’re having a “serious conversation” with your architects and designers.

Special, Special, Special Note:

I’m watching organizations spend hundreds of thousands of dollars and many months/years for the “BUILDING” PLAN & MODEL… and (relatively) NOTHING (time or money) for the corresponding FUNDING PLAN & MODEL.

It sure seems like these two things are connected and should have ‘equal’ weight, but maybe that’s just me.

“How to stay bullish in bearish times.”

I was reading an article this morning in Selling Power by Mark Victor Hansen of Chicken Soup fame.

The article was all about staying POSITIVE in negative times.

Here are 3 ways to stay BULLISH in BEARISH TIMES.

  1. THINK BIG. Asking 10 or 100 people for a $100,000 project… is 1,000 times harder than finding the one person who loves the project and wants to see it happen.

  2. BUILD SIMPLE. The clear, concise, compelling message around Purpose, Priorities and Plan. That’s ‘all’ it takes.

    *Some fun alliteration: Complexity, Complaining and Confusion Create a Cacophony of Contradictions that Condemn a Clear, Concise, Compelling Case.

  3. ACT NOW. Don’t ‘bunker’ ‘hunker’. (Hunker down in your bunker.) Don’t hide in your office. Successful achievers in this financial climate are out making visits, making great presentations and making money (for their organization).

Campaign Seminar 4: A New Funding Model and Plan

In this seminar we break down how to leverage a holistic funding model (annual fund [old word], operations, endowment and special [campaign] projects). It offers examples and ‘how-to’ to help you maximize each relationship – maximizing all funding streams… leveraging the role of the board… and building your campaign plan.

MP3 File | Download Call Notes

Some of the feedback: how listeners described this session:

  • “This seminar presented a model for linking campaigns, planned giving and annual giving.”
  • “This seminar affirms that we’re on the right track. That alone is valuable, need and appreciated. Thanks!”
  • “I’ve been following all the Campaign Week seminars – this one gave more specifics to help us with the ‘holistic ask’!”
  • “Transformational… ”

  • “This is such a rich perspective on how to handle the board, the campaign committee and all the problems that can emerge with them. It is the contrary of :” go out and ask money to your friends” !!”

Campaign Week: Top 10 Campaign Questions

In this seminar we will work through the top 10 campaign challenges faced by every organization…

  1. “How do we simplify our case for support?”
  2. “How do we find and train our sales team?”
  3. “How do we move from planning to dollars in the bank?”
  4. “How do we identify and prioritize prospects?”
  5. “How do we get visits?”
  6. “How do we overcome call reluctance?”
  7. “How do we close?”
  8. “How do we measure and manage our campaign?”
  9. “How do we actively engage our board and volunteer leaders?”
  10. “How do we use our president/ED and senior staff?”

MP3 File | Download Call Notes

Some of the feedback: how listeners described this session:

  • “Top 10 campaign changes are really summed up in one word…FOCUS!! Focus on prospects, focus on priorities, focus on the campaign. Don’t become distracted!”
  • “Super focused experienced. Very clear message and strategies!”

  • “Had our entire board on. Very fired up and gives us much to move forward with… THANKS.”

Campaign Week: How to Fund Your Vision

We started off campaign week yesterday with the first of our teleseminars – a campaign rendition of ‘How to Fund Your Vision’. See more teleseminars.

MP3 File | Download Call Notes

Some of the feedback: how listeners described this session:

  • “Gives you a new perspective on approaching funding for your organization that is direct, simple and takes the dread out of funding your cause. Helps create excitement for doing something that for too long has been seen almost as a necessary evil. Helps you focus on the good that you are doing in your organization and getting the story out to the community.”
  • “A good start to get into “campaign mode” – which, according to the seminar, should be ongoing. Motivational, makes you think about what you are currently doing and how and why you may need to change.”
  • “Great presentation! I am going to take the POV Guiding Principles and really concentrate on incorporating it into my organization.”
  • “This is an extremely useful clinic that employs a “no-nonsense” yet humorous approach to fund raising. For instance, Nick tells his audience “you’re in sales, people! Get over it!” I would recommend this clinic very highly to anyone looking to increase their organization’s impact.”
  • “I enjoyed the seminar, It has given me something to think about.I need to focus more on the relationships between my organisations and our friends, and keep up communications.”

33 Campaign Lessons

August 11th to 15th is For Impact’s CAMPAIGN WEEK
(our version of ‘Shark Week’ on the Discovery Channel).

To kick it off and get you in the right frame of mind, I’ve summarized
33 LESSONS I have learned in helping manage over 300 ‘Campaigns’
and raising over $1B.

Some are self-explanatory. Others are ‘Suddes Shorthand’. (You can download
the entire CAMPAIGN MANIFESTO, TAKE A QUANTUM LEAP for free between now and Aug 15.)

Every org we talk with is IN a Campaign, just coming OUT of a Campaign,
or PLANNING a Campaign.

I hope one of these lessons is the breakthrough for a QUANTUM LEAP ?

1. Attitude is everything!
2. “Make no mistake. We’re in a campaign.”
3. “Leaders Lead.”
4. Everything’s a project.
5. “On Board.”
6. Step Up.
7. Focus. Focus. Focus.
8. Do. Delegate. Dump.
9. No Excuses. No Timeouts. No Substitutions.
10. Get more aggressive.
11. Let go of your baggage.
12. “Engage. Then plan.”
13. Fail. Fail Fast. Better.
14. Prototype everything.
15. Speed doesn’t kill.
16. Act or ask.
17. W.I.T. (Whatever It Takes)
18. Oscillation.
19. Power Of One.
20. No “I” in “team” is a crock.
21. Who, not How.
22. Hire Mavericks.
23. It’s all about sales.
24. Sales requires people. process. performance.
25. Sales demands measurement.
26. Do your push-ups.
27. Write it down. It will happen.
28. Vision rooms rule!!!
29. Simplify your message.
30. Create memorable experiences.
31. Share the story. Present the opportunity.
32. Follow-up. Perseverance. 57 times.

Get 33 Campaign Lessons on one (really cool) page

You Will Never Have Enough Information

Remember a powerful quote that Tom and I love:

“Engage, then plan.” Andy Grove

You will never have enough information before meeting with a prospect.
If you’re waiting until you have enough then your approach would be to,
“Plan, then engage.”

I don’t know that I’m every really sure about the ratings and
rankings on my prospect list (including a prospect’s capacity and
relationship) until AFTER I’ve gone to visit with them.

The implications?

  • You can’t determine what you will ask for until you’ve had a real conversation
    with the prospect. Too many times I’ve been told by a board member or
    champion, “You can only ask for $X.” During the visit we learn information
    that would warrant a $10X ask. (So we ask for $10X!)

  • It’s okay to not know everything. You can fill in the blanks by asking

  • Wealth screening, Google, giving history etc. are your knowledge base
    – not strategies. Want a strategy? Go and visit with the prospect. Share
    the story around your impact and present the opportunity to save lives,
    change lives and/or impact lives.

  • Don’t to set a bar BEFORE you share your vision, your impact, your
    raison d’etre. Don’t make decisions for your prospect. The reason for
    sharing your story and your vision is to SET A NEW OR VERY HIGH BAR.

Here is a very powerful question – so powerful we call it the ‘DISCOVERY

After getting the prospect VERY engaged around your impact and your priorities
you can share you funding plan and ask:

“Prospect, I don’t know about your capacity.
This program will require $40,000 a year for each of the next three years.
Is this something you could do?”

After you build confidence in your approach, you can drop the line about
‘not knowing capacity.’

It’s a powerful question you’ve engaged the prospect. The answer
will provide all the information you need to plan. It’s important
that you listen, process and keep moving forward with the relationship.
Implied: Don’t ‘engage… then stop.’