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.
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.
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…
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.
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.
“Can you think of 2-3 names that match our IDEAL PROFILE?” (more…)
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.
Here are some ‘gems’ from the FEMALE ECONOMY and HBR, along with some of my thoughts (Circa 2009).
HBR: WOMEN NOW DRIVE THE WORLD ECONOMY.
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!
HBR: WOMEN MAKE THE DECISION IN THE PURCHASES OF:
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.
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!
THE WEEKLY CHALLENGE:
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”.
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’!!!
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.
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…
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).