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Daily Nuggets: A For Impact Blog

“Half the Money You Spend is Wasted”

John Wanamaker, the 19th Century department store magnate, supposedly observed, “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted. The trouble is, I don’t know which half.”

After 36 years in this sector and more than 25 years of consulting, coaching and training… I believe the same thing applies to development and fundraising.


    • When I see organizational development (fundraising) budgets, and then see how much net, net, net money is actually raised… it’s appalling.
    • When I look at the money, time and energy that goes into what is supposed to be SPECIAL EVENTS… I’m amazed that anyone would even pretend the Golf Outing is generating Income that is having any significant Impact.
    • When I observe the amount of money spent on people/staff with no clear goals, no measurement, no accountability… I think I know which half is wasted.

I could go on and on. Let me make this Jack Nicholson crystal clear: (more…)

Turn ‘Dog Days’ Into Great Thinking and Planning Time

I was at the ‘beach’ last week with the g-kids (and some of their parents) doing some early morning reflection and some looooong bike rides from one end of the island to the other. I was struck by how AUGUST is viewed as such a down month, dog days of August/summer, no productivity, nobody around, nothing happening.

The fact is, it’s a TERRIFIC time to THINKREFLECTPLAN.

After Labor Day, the kids are back in school, there’s more focus on business and work, etc.

WHAT IF… you use these next few weeks to commit (to yourself) that you’re going to make some ‘BIG STUFF’ happen in September, October and November?

WHAT IF… you took some (a lot?!) time during these next few weeks to:

  1. THINK BIG! Set some really Big Hairy Audacious Goals. Commit to stay at 30,000′. Take Quantum Leaps. Etc. Etc.

    Special Note: One great way to get in the right frame of mind for this activity is to read some powerful ‘THINK BIG’ books. Here’s a couple of quick examples:

    • Man’s Search for Meaning, Victor Frankl. It’s said to be one of the ten best books ever written. If you’re looking for a great life philosophy read that applies to just about everything, Frankl’s book about Nazi war camps, attitude, purpose, etc. is a must read.

    • Think & Grow Rich. Supposedly, more people have pointed to this book as their turning point in their lives (me included) than any other book besides the Bible. DCA (Definite Chief Aim). Mastermind Group. Purpose. So much more.

    • *If you really want to go deep here. Grab Napoleon Hill’s Law of Success. Mine is 3” thick with a bright red cover. Hill’s copyright is 1937. My first reading (inscribed inside the cover) was 40 years after that on the 25th of May, 1977.

    • The Magic of Thinking Big. David Schwartz classic. Just reinforces the whole concept that it’s actually so much easier to do BIG STUFF than it is a bunch of small, mediocre stuff. MAGIC is just a great reminder of this concept.

  2. “FIRST WITH THE HEAD. THEN WITH THE HEART.” This is my favorite line from one of the best books I’ve ever read in my life, The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay. It’s kind of the paradox to Andy Grove’s “Engage, Then Plan.”

    I actually think August is a terrific time to PLAN (First with the Head)… so that you can ENGAGE/EXECUTE/ACT (Then with the Heart).

    This morning I just finished putting together a 90-Day Action Plan for September, October and November. I know WHAT I need to get done (at the highest level). I know WHY I need to do it and how it fits into life goals, business goals, etc. And I know HOW I can get it done.

    Now all I’ve get to do is actually DO it.

    *I even created a separate Journal this morning just for this Action Plan. WRITE IT DOWN. IT WILL HAPPEN.

  3. HAVE FUN! The word ‘RECREATE’ can be broken into RE-CREATE. One way to RE-CREATE is to RECREATE! You’re much more creative when you take time off to get away from the fires, the mundane, the cacophony of mindless babbling at work. If you go to the beach or the mountains or even a local coffee shop… it’s a great opportunity to THINK. To PLAN. To CREATE.

    We need to have more FUN! Practice NEOTONY. The dictionary says this is ‘juvenilism’ but I think of the word more about ACTING LIKE A CHILD. Be curious. Have fun. Ask questions.

    If you want a special book on this, check out Serious Play by Michael Schrage.

P.S. I am called O.G. (Old Guy) by all my grandkids (and many others). One of my favorite authors of all time is OG Mandino who had a very powerful influence on my life in my early years. Here is an article from latest Success magazine on Og. Read any of his wonderful books for a real lift.


As a right-brain (hair-brain?), contrarian, mind-mapping maverick, talking about a ‘SYSTEM’ is sometimes hard. But, I saw the word as an acronym and I can certainly buy into this:

Save Yourself Stress, Time, Energy and Money.

That’s really what a true SYSTEM does.

Note: A SYSTEM, by definition, is an orderly, inner-connected arrangement… a set of principles linked to form a coherent doctrine or… a method of organization, administration or procedure.

We’ve got some great SYSTEMS. You can call them processes or frameworks or methodologies, but I believe all of these qualify:

• A SALES SYSTEM (the Roadmap and Process).
• A DEVELOPMENT SYSTEM (around the Model).
• A PRESENTATION SYSTEM (a Framework and Flow).
• A PROSPECTING SYSTEM (to help Identify, Prioritize and Strategize).
• A ‘STRATEGIC PLANNING’ SYSTEM (around Leadership Consensus Building).
• A (Non-Traditional) CAMPAIGN SYSTEM.

All of these Save You Stress, Time, Energy and Money.

Let us know if you could use any of these SYSTEMS, especially you left-brains, need the details, execution.

Measuring Outcomes vs. Inputs

I was with a University President last week talking about his institution’s Message, Framework, Unique Selling Points, etc. He’s an incredibly well-read, experienced, really bright thought leader. He shared a story about American business, especially MANUFACTURING, as it existed 50 years ago. (These are my shorthand notes. He told the story much more eloquently.)





Replaced the old model with a change in PROCESS (re-engineering around measurement and statistics, etc. Think Edward Denning and Elijah Goldratt.)

The goal was to stabilize the consistency of the PROCESS to minimize and eliminate the BAD STUFF.

Here’s where he went with that re: EDUCATION.

The old INPUT model goes back 500 years (University of Bologna, etc.) Nothing’s changed. Same pedagogy. Teacher. Student. Classroom. If you fail, you’re gone. Throw out the bad. Keep the good. Be ‘proud‘ of the number of students you don’t accept and the number of students who don’t make it.

In education, a new model of OUTCOME-BASED would look at the entire process so that everyone makes it.

INPUT VS. OUTCOME. I found it really interesting and, perhaps more importantly for For Impact leaders, social entrepreneurs, change agents and Development/Sales… think about how this applies to the way we ‘RAISE MONEY’.

The old INPUT-BASED model is all about activity, cultivation, marketing, annual fund, chasing mice.

The new OUTCOME-BASED model (certainly our For Impact model) is all about:

  1. Writing ‘TRIPLE NET CHECKS’ to the organization from the Development Operation.

  2. A laser-like focus on RESULTS/OUTCOME… not on activities, special events, donor acquisitions, chasing mice, etc.

  3. Do only those things that have dramatic, quantum leap, transformational results. (Chase antelopes.)

P.S. A few days ago, a very, very senior development office, principle gift officer actually told our Vice President that the institution needed to “spend the next five years totally focused on building up ANNUAL FUND”.

Can you imagine doing that in ‘business’? Let’s sell a bunch of little stuff to a lot of people… so that five years from now those people can buy more and bigger stuff. We’d be out of business.

If Not You, Who???

If you (or someone in your org) is not out making VISITS, making PRESENTATIONS, making ASKS… who do you think will???

Nobody woke up this morning and said to themselves, “This would be a great day to give $10,000 (or $100,000) to my favorite IMPACT organization.”

On Speed

Whatever is lost with speed is more than made up for by speed.

– I was going to write more but wanted to get this thought out 🙂

2009: Year of Engagement

We hope you had a great holiday and that you are ready to make 2009 your best year ever.

Of all the possible ‘resolutions’ you could make for 2009, Nick and I believe the one that will have the most IMPACT is to simply ENGAGE!!!

Make 2009 your YEAR OF ENGAGEMENT.

To help you get going, we have put together some RULES OF ENGAGEMENT and a suggested ACTION PLAN. To download the PDF: 2009: YEAR OF ENGAGEMENT.

Start today! Begin to ENGAGE around our biggest insight:


This the first Rule of Engagement is a reminder, at the highest level, of the importance of your IMPACT! This is the ‘WHY’ you need to ENGAGE!

If you start this year committed to increasing, scaling and growing your IMPACT, you will attack every day with Energy, Enthusiasm and Engagement!

Special Note: IF… you just were to ENGAGE (in dialogue/conversation) with the absolute best 33 members of your (organization) ‘FAMILY’ – your world (and their world) would be TRANSFORMED!

Silos Don’t Play Well Together

You are perfectly designed to get the results you are getting.

Sooooo, if you have a Planned Giving Office, a Foundation Office, a Corporation Office, an Annual Fund Office, a Grant Writing Office, an Alumni Office, an IT Office, a Special Event Office, a Unrestricted Giving Office, a Restricted Giving Office, a Campaign Office… then you’re designed (competitively) to not communicate, not collaborate, not play well together.

This ‘No More Silos & Boxes’ nugget is a HUGE LEAP, but mandatory for any kind of real success.
Your Qualified Prospects and current investors don’t want to be ‘SOLICITED’ by all these ‘offices’. This is not about how you ‘count’ and ‘account’ for the funds. It’s how people want to INVEST in your institution, organization, cause and case. All of you know where your ‘SILOS’ exist. They are parts of the organization that are DISCONNECTED by the ‘BOXES’ (in the organization chart), the baggage, the sacred cows of the organization and by the ‘BOSSES’ (of the different departments.)

*Organization charts and boxes, by the way, were based upon a military industrial model of command and control and assembly lines. This was a terrific concept when first brought out in the 1950’s. It doesn’t work now. Creating a model and an organization built on HOLISTIC TEAMS who collaboratively engage in transformation, vision and changing the world beat the living daylights out of “boxes” and your “organization chart”. (Obviously, I’m not expecting any HR people to be looking at this.)

I’m going to encourage you to take this as far as you dare. It gets tough when we tell people that they shouldn’t have a ‘Planned Giving Office’ or ‘Officer’, or eliminate the slots focused on ‘corporations’ or ‘foundations’ or grant writing. Perhaps more importantly, we are met with looks of absolute amazement when we suggest that the people on the IMPACT side (you know, the ones that are delivering your service) should be actively engaged as part of the team to help generate INCOME and FUND A VISION!

Example: What if there were NO MORE MAJOR GIFT OFFICERS? This may freak you out, but it’s about the TITLE! It’s so ‘developmenty’ and ‘fundraisey’. It’s an insider’s word. It’s on our business cards and on our stationary. We might as well wear a sandwich board that says, “I’m a MAJOR GIFT OFFICER. I’m coming to ask you for a MAJOR GIFT. Get ready.” Change the title of everyone in your organization who is engaged with your constituency to include the word ‘RELATIONSHIP’! (Chief Relationships Officer, Regional Relationships Officer, Regional Director of Relationships, College Relationships Officer, Relationships Officer)

Special Note: I’m still using RM in most of the places where we coach. Relationship Manager (RM) is certainly better than Major Gift Officer, but it still doesn’t really reflect this idea.

Encore Effect

Mark Sanborn just wrote a little book called The Encore Effect: How to Achieve a Remarkable Performance in Anything You Do.

It caught my attention for two reasons. One, I heard Mark Sanborn speak many, many years ago at an Inc. Conference. I remember talking about his Harley and Colorado and much more.

Second, I am pretty big on the whole “PERFORMANCE” thing right now. Mark talks about the traits of extraordinary performers:


Just looking at this wonderful alliteration gives you 6 pretty big P’s to think about.

The 4-Hour Workweek for Fundraisers

What would you do if you could only spend 4 Hours each week on bringing in money for your organization?

One of my favorite reads right now and personal recommendations is The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferris. It speaks to me about designing a life over designing work and designing work around life. You should read the book for Tim’s life outlook alone and the thinking that leads to a 4-Hour workweek.

The social sector is crammed with people that came into their jobs fueled by passion and fast-tracking to burnout as they find themselves doing so many things, for so little pay and so far from their passion for 60-80 hours per week. Even ‘dedicated development people’, they spend most of their time dealing with event prep, mailers, meetings, research, etc.

The 4-Hour work week is about maximizing your return-on-energy.

One of things Tim had to do was fire 80% of his non-productive clients. He them employed Pareto’s rule to every aspect of his business.

What if we eliminated 80% of our nonproductive [funding] activities? Go even further… what if we eliminated 97% of our nonproductive funding activities and focused ONLY on the top 3% of the prospects that really transform the org?

What if we eliminated two (or three or four) not-so-special events and took all that time, energy and effort focusing on one (or two or three or four) prospects that could invest $1Million to the cause?

Whether a start-up, a large university or entrepreneurial org focusing on boosting programming dollars, every organization we’ve ever worked with has been completely transformed as a result of focusing on and maximizing the relationships with its top 10 prospects. This is a ‘simple not easy’ concept. It’s much easier however, than working 80 hours per week and spinning the hamster wheel.

Most of the funding activities we’re doing are not productive. Nix them. Focus on the top-of-the-pyramid always. Find more time for your passion in life and business. Find more time for your business to focus on its business – rather than the next event, report, activity, etc.