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Daily Nuggets: A For Impact Blog

97% of the funds come from 3% of the prospects

We’ve worked with some 5000 organizations over the past 25+ years — if you include the thousands that have attended Boot Camps and signature trainings. We see that 97% of the funds for any organization come from just 3% of that organization’s ‘family’.

I believe this number would be closer to 99:1 but so many organizations spend their time, energy and effort focusing (disproportionately) on the 97% that make up only 3% of the funds.

Where are you spending your time? Where can you get the most return-on-energy?

Sometimes people want to point me to organizations like NPR and Salvation Army — as if to challenge this point. One answer: Joan Kroc. She committed $200M and $1.5B to these organizations, respectively.

8 Big Prospecting Questions

You’ve just had the fourth straight board meeting in which you asked for names… but you didn’t get any. Yes… I AM psychic! [sarcasm]

This happens in hundreds of meetings everyday. It’s not fruitful. What board members hear is this question, “Who do you know that has money that you could go ask?” There is no context for the names… we don’t have a grasp on what will happen with the names (story, process, etc) and we’re not sure what a prospect really looks like.

At a higher level, we need to think in a more strategic way about all prospects… about maximizing relationships… the definition of a prospect and how to generate more qualified prospects.

For prospecting, think about how you can use these big questions internally and externally.

  1. Who are our top 10 best prospects?

    Before you think about new prospects the most important thing you can do is write down you top 10 beest prospects (in descending order of importance). Most organizations… most businesses… don’t do this. Having a top 10 is fundamental. Then we can ask the next strategic question…

  2. Have we maximized our best relationships?

    If not, why?

    As For Impact coaches we’re adamant about getting you a working story and process before adding more names. More names won’t do any good if you’re not maximizing the names you have already. If orgs aren’t not maximizing relationships it’s usually because

    • They don’t have a clear message or compelling story.
    • They’re not asking.
    • They’re not follow-up up… closing.
  3. What would it mean to maximize this relationship?

    Take any prospect, new or existing and work to answer this question. It’s very different from asking, “How much should we ask for?” It’s strategic and looks at the RELATIONSHIP in a bigger context.

  4. “Can you think of 2-3 names that match our IDEAL PROFILE?”

Don’t Make Assumptions for your Best Prospects

I’ve had two organizations out to Eagle Creek in the past week (prompting this invitation post) for some strategic coaching around ‘top of the pyramid strategies’. Some key reminders to both organizations — and you.

Don’t make assumptions for your best prospects.

We tend to tell ourselves a story, that there are other prospects out there that we just haven’t located or that we don’t know…. that we’re close to unlocking connections to other connections… and when we do, THEN we’ll really be on-the-road to huge funding success.

Hidden in this story is an assumption that our current prospects aren’t interested or don’t have capacity or simply aren’t going to give at ‘those levels’.

We need to tell ourselves a different story… that there aren’t better prospects on the planet than those under our nose… that these prospects are passionate about our cause… and that the reason they haven’t given is because we haven’t engaged them, illustrated the impact/need and ASKED.

Help People Get What They Want!!!

Zig Ziglar is a God-like figure in Personal Development and Sales Training. He summarizes his entire philosophy, point of view and message as follows.

“To get what you want, help enough other people get what they want first.”

He’s all about ATTITUDE. So are we.

You need to believe that to “get what you want” (Make more IMPACT, have more INCOME to Fund Your Vision, etc.) you have to “help enough other people get what they want”:

It’s sometimes hard to put yourself in the INVESTOR’S proverbial shoes, but I believe they want:

    An Opportunity to Make A Difference

    A Chance to Move from Success to Significance (in Drucker’s words)

    A Meaningful Way to HELP You Achieve Your Impact

To get what you WANT… help other people get what they WANT!

Women Rule (2009 Iteration)

It’s official! HBR (Harvard Business Review) for September 2009 has ‘confirmed’ that women really do rule.

The article was titled Understanding the “Female Economy”.

Here’s why I find this both funny and sad.

In 2003, Tom Peters was somehow turned onto to this whole ‘WOMEN’ thing. He wrote about it. Spoke about it. And I picked up on it.

I tried to apply this WOMEN RULE thing to the Third Sector and the For Impact World. In 2003, I wrote Women Rule. In 2005, I added Women & Philanthropy, calling it the $1 Billion Idea. In 2007, I gave you Lions, Mice, Antelopes… and Women.

Here are some ‘gems’ from the FEMALE ECONOMY and HBR, along with some of my thoughts (Circa 2009).

  • Control $20 Trillion in Annual Consumer Spending.
  • $13 Trillion in Yearly Earnings.
  • In aggregate, women represent a growth market bigger than China and India combined. (More than twice as big, in fact.)

FI: So who do we ‘call’ on? MEN!

  • HBR: THE WORLD’S LARGEST OPPORTUNITY. The authors proclaim that “Women represent the largest MARKET OPPORTUNITY in the world.” Income will rise $5 Trillion in the next five years from $13 Trillion to $18 Trillion, etc.
  • “But despite women’s dominant buying power, many companies continue to market mostly to men and fail to explore how they might meet women’s needs.”

    ***Their shorthand metaphor for what not to do is “Make it pink.”

    FI: So who do we ‘call’ on? MEN!

    • 94% of Home Furnishings
    • 92% of Vacations
    • 91% of Homes
    • 60% of Automobiles
    • 51% of Consumer Electronics.”

    FI: And, we’re guessing at least 50% of philanthropic decisions.

    OG (The Old Guy): The HBR article by Michael Silverstein and Kate Sayre, both partners in the Boston Consulting Group, is based on their book Women Want More: How to Capture Your Share of the World’s Largest, Fastest Growing Market.

    The thrust of the book and the article was really around CONSUMER SPENDING, purchasing, retail, etc….

    My point to everyone reading this is about WOMEN ‘IN’ PHILANTHROPY! It could also be WOMEN ‘AND’ PHILANTHROPY!

    • WOMEN ARE GREAT PROPSECTS!!! They actually have a heart. They really want to help people in need. They are great prospects solo (as individuals)and they need to be brought in as part of a couple, parents, spouse.

    • WOMEN ARE GREAT PROSPECTS for Legacy Gifts. One of the biggest laughs I get in speaking is when I ask the question: “Who’s going to end up with the $100 TRILLION of WEALTH TRANSFER in the next 30 years?” The laugh comes around my answer: “WOMEN!”

      They outlive men… and, therefore, become great prospects for both cash and Legacy Gifts.

    • WOMEN ENTREPRENEURS. I don’t have all the “numbers” right at hand, but this market segment/sector is also growing by proverbial leaps and bounds.

    CLOSE: You can read all this… and more. Or, you can just GET IT… and go VISIT with WOMEN!


    • Identify 3 women champions (either already committed to your cause/org or great potential) and VISIT WITH THEM !
    • Get 30 minutes.  Ask for nothing but feedback and counsel.  Listen.  Tell some stories.  Touch the ‘heart”.
    • You’ll be amazed at the results.
  • Women and Philanthropy

    Note: I’m posting a series of nuggets on ‘women and philanthropy’ so some of these are from previous years that I want to bring to the top of the pile. — below from 2005.

    • 10.2 million women earn more than their husbands!!! (One out of four women)
    • Women equal 43% of Americans with assets greater than $500,000 !!!
    • Women own 60% of all assets in the U.S. !!!
    • Women-owned businesses total nearly 8 MILLION !!!  (vs. 400,000 25 years ago); and post $2.3 trillion in annual sales!
    • This year, 50% of all small businesses will be woman owned.
    • More than half of the new jobs created in this country since 1992 are attributed to women-owned businesses !
    • Women control over half of commercial and consumer consumption.
    • American women… by themselves …are in effect the largest “national” economy on earth!!!
    • Women control about 80% of household spending and, using their own resources, make up 47% of investors.
    • Women buy 81% of all products and services, buy 75% of all over-the-counter medications, make 81% of retail purchases, and buy 82% of groceries.
    • Eighty percent of the checks written in the United States are signed by women.
    • Forty percent of all business travelers are women; they are responsible for 61% of all travel and consumer-electronics purchases.
    • Women influence 85% of all automobiles purchased.
    • They also head 50% of all U.S. households with incomes over $600,000 and own roughly 66% of all home-based businesses.
    • Women have been the majority of voters in this country since 1964.
    • The inter-generational transfer of wealth in the next 20 years will be between $8 and $14 trillion and women will handle most of it!!!

    Lions, Mice, Antelopes & Women

    Note: I’m posting a series of nuggets on ‘women and philanthropy’ so some of these are from previous years that I want to bring to the top of the pile. — below from 2007.

    One of the most important reasons we’re trying to IDENTIFY and PRIORITIZE our best prospects is so that we can FOCUS on the very TOP.

    Here’s a wonderful story about LIONS, MICE & ANTELOPES to help you understand this principle/concept of RETURN-ON-ENERGY.

    A lion can actually capture, kill and eat a field mouse.

    However, it turns out that the ENERGY to do that is greater than the caloric content of the mouse.

    If a lion spent his whole day hunting and eating field mice … it would slowly starve itself to death!

    A lion cannot live on mice. Lions need antelopes. Antelopes are BIG. While they take more speed and strength to capture and kill… once killed, they provide a huge feast for a lion and its pride.

    A lion can live a long and happy life on a diet of antelope.

    It will die “chasing mice”.

    If you’re spending all of your time and energy going after “field mice”, your short-term reward is a feeling of ‘ACTIVITY’, and maybe even ‘ACCOMPLISHMENT’.

    However, in the long run, you’re going to die .

    (This is a story. It’s meant to convey an idea. Don’t take the whole “kill” or “antelope” thing too literally.)

    The lesson as it relates to QUALIFIED PROSPECTS is about spending your day CHASING MICE or HUNTING ANTELOPE.

    • Do we even know the difference?
    • Do we know who our antelope are?
    • Are we going to continue doing ‘special events’ that aren’t ‘special’, aren’t ‘events’ and are primarily focused on ‘MICE’?


    Special Note: I told this story to a large training group a few days ago. A lady came up and told me that while the story was very meaningful and that she “got it”… the “facts” were wrong! And she was right!

    The LION doesn’t really hunt for anything (mice or antelopes). He lays around under the ‘lion tree’ waiting for a ‘lion beer’ or watching ‘lion TV’!!!

    The LIONESS does all the hunting for the family!

    As always, WOMEN RULE!

    Deveopment IS Relationships

    I spent some time talking to an ED this morning. We really focused on thinking about development = RELATIONSHIPS.

    Historically, this organization ‘turns over’ relationships to the development officer once they’re ‘ready for funding’. It doesn’t working that way. Funding (at a higher level – sales) is not a step or moment in a relationship – it IS the relationship.

    Even if you’re not ‘asking for money’ you are always building and then hopefully maximizing the relationship. This is what we mean when we say it’s about RELATIONSHIPS not TRANSACTIONS. Is is the job/role of development to manage the relationship (more broadly) not just the manage the requests for money.

    The Irrational Investor

    In my experience, maybe 1 out of 40 prospects will be completely irrational. He or she will ask off-the-wall questions – to which ‘coming out of left field’ would be an understatement. The prospect may even appear to be apathetic toward making a difference (at all/ever)… or maybe on a power trip. This is The Irrational Investor.

    Many people spend A LOT of time (years?) prepping for The Irrational Investor. That prospect keeps you in your office planning, prepping, scheming, waiting always until tomorrow.

    • “What if they just aren’t into saving lives?” (are you kidding me?)
    • “What if they want to see our financials from seven years ago?” (they’re making run a fool’s errand)
    • “What if? What if? What if?”

    Stop focusing on the irrational investor.

    Like an exotic animal, the Irrational Investor DOES exist. However, you cannot and should not be focusing on 1 out of 40. You need to focus on the other 39 — RATIONALE investors – the prospects (individuals/corporations/foundations) that want to save lives, change lives and impact lives… the prospects that want to have real conversations… with YOU.

    Think about it:

    • You’ll never have enough info: Seriously, even if you came back with the 3rd quarter financials from seven years ago you would then be asked for something else crazy. You’ll never have enough for an irrational investor so don’t even try.
    • Opportunity cost: Assuming you are doing something to change the world then how many families are missing out on your programs? Students missing out on an education? Or, advances toward a cure? Why does the irrational investor get to hold everything up?
    • Laugh it off: On the VERY RARE occasion that you do come across an Irrational Investor just laugh it off. Make your presentation, get a good story from the visit and then keep follow-up really simple…
    • “We become what we think about”: What a miserable life it is to think about The Irrational Investor. So don’t.

    This concept is freeing for many training camp attendees. If the Irrational Investor is holding you up, let me offer an assurance (again): just about everyone you meet with be and act like a real person. They don’t bite. They want to have an impact. They’ll love the logic of your presentation and help if they’re qualified (… if you ask).

    Focus on Ideal Prospects

    These times (actually all times) require absolute FOCUS on our IDEAL PROSPECTS.

    Today’s IDEAL PROSPECT is not heavily invested in Fannie Mae, Lehman Bros. or Washington Mutual Savings & Loan!