“Two professors who study the science of complexity—Brenda Zimmerman of York University and Sholom Glouberman of the University of Toronto—have proposed a distinction among three different kinds of problems in the world: the simple, the complicated, and the complex. Simple problems, they note, are ones like baking a cake from a mix. There is a recipe. Sometimes there are a few basic techniques to learn. But once these are mastered, following the recipe brings a high likelihood of success. Complicated problems are ones like sending a rocket to the moon. They can sometimes be broken down into a series of simple problems. But there is no straightforward recipe. Success frequently requires multiple people, often multiple teams, and specialized expertise. Unanticipated difficulties are frequent. Timing and coordination become serious concerns. Complex problems are ones like raising a child. Once you learn how to send a rocket to the moon, you can repeat the process with other rockets and perfect it. One rocket is like another rocket. But not so with raising a child, the professors point out. Every child is unique. Although raising one child may provide experience, it does not guarantee success with the next child. Expertise is valuable but most certainly not sufficient. Indeed, the next child may require an entirely different approach from the previous one. And this brings up another feature of complex problems: their outcomes remain highly uncertain. Yet we all know that it is possible to raise a child well. It’s complex, that’s all.”
I want to relate this framing to teams and dysfunction. Building and leading a team is a complex problem. Like raising a child well – “It’s complex, that’s all.” In our work at The Suddes Group, we’re often building or reconfiguring teams to create greater funding results. One of the things we’ve observed is the relationship between the simple and complex problems. When teams don’t execute on the simple problems, the complex problems are amplified.
Any funding effort is largely a function of simple problems:(more…)
Reposting one of our most popular nuggets from Tom about how to measure success and productivity in your Development Operation.
RETURN-ON-INVESTMENT: What every Investor wants from their investment and what every For Impact organization should want from its development/advancement/fundraising effort.
I feel this concept is completely absent or totally misunderstood from our sector – Something I want to help change.
With all due respect to the industry, I just don’t get it. An organization invests money and resources in their development/fundraising operation (whether it’s a one-person shop or 50 people in the college advancement division) but doesn’t measure that RETURN-ON-INVESTMENT. I’m not sure how else you would measure productivity or success without making ROI the #1 barometer.
ROI is very simple to calculate. It’s a numerator/denominator math problem:
Here’s how much money we Raised (the numerator).
Here’s how much money we spent/Total Expenses (denominator).
R – TE = NET, NET, NET CHECK/FUNDS to support IMPACT!
In the For Impact approach, the development function ‘write checks’ to the IMPACT.
R ÷ TE = ROI and COST OF FUNDRAISING.
For example, if you are a hospital foundation raising $2M a year in ‘fundraising Revenue and your total expenses are $1M then your ROI is 2X or 100%; and your cost of fundraising is 50%.
There are two ways to increase your ROI and decrease your cost of fundraising:
Increase the Numerator (Revenue)
Decrease the Denominator (Expenses)
In our For Impact world, our own benchmarks are as follows:
3X is minimum model/benchmark.
4X is great.
5X is something you should be very proud of.
If you’re running a Campaign within an existing development operation or as a separate initiative, I believe the cost of fundraising should be a nickel (five cents on the dollar.) That would give you a 20X ROI.
If you are a For Impact leader, senior staff, executive director or a board member, I hope the above gives you some sense of comparison.
Note: One last example of why ROI is a completely different level of thinking than simply “This is how much money we raised this year.” I can guarantee a small not-for-profit organization an additional $100,000 this year – Hire two ‘major gifts officers’ at $50,000 apiece. Send them to For Impact Boot Camp. I guarantee that they can go out and raise $100,000 in the next year (combined.)Same thing would be true with a larger organization at $1M. Hire five major gift officers at $200,000 each. I’m fairly confident if they followed any sales process they would each be able to raise $200,000 in the next year for a total of $1M.
We use a Leadership Consensus Building (LCB) framework on nearly every project. At the highest level, this is a versatile framework to:
Create clarity around vision, message, priorities and plan,
Get others ‘on board’ with these elements, and
Build (funding) momentum.
This visual illustrates the LCB Framework:
I often describe Leadership Consensus Building as similar to coalition-building – You’re bringing people together around an idea, cause or vision and creating priorities, goals and buy-in. A natural result of this process is that everyone becomes invested in the outcome!
Leadership Consensus Building can be used in many ways and can help with these specific challenges:
Getting a board ‘on board.’ Think about strategically engaging each board member one-on-one (or in small groups) as part of this framework. (This is much better than holding a retreat and herding cats.) And, you can use a team gathering to start or conclude the process – We often do this in the form of a Vision Day!
Determining (funding) priorities. We often employ the framework to help with organizational development and strategic planning – facilitating this process to engage key leaders and stakeholders, listen to key issues and keep framing toward a common goal. The framework is essential to effective strategic planning with a team.
Predisposing prospects for campaign funding. This a great way to test and strengthen your message with your best prospects. Depending on the prospect you can say, with authenticity, “We want you to be our lead funder on this so it makes sense to sit down and talk through the priorities and plan well in advance of that conversation.”
Testing feasibility math. Leadership Consensus Building is about engaging key stakeholders with a working version of your message, model and math. It brings ‘to the market’ a real message and plan for discussion – versus a hypothetical! This is an alternative to a traditional feasibility study which means you can be…
Building funding momentum (while you figure out ‘the next big thing.’) I see too many teams who are waiting to engage in a funding conversation until _____ . While you get stakeholders on board with a vision and plan, this framework allows you to be sharing a future project AND asking for a commitment for a CURRENT project.
Because we spend so much time teaching this to leaders, I’m going to record a seminar on the subject this Tuesday, June 14, 2016. Blog readers can participate for free – More info and registration. On the call, I will walk through this visual and illustrate how it can be used in various ways, giving examples you can model. Actions:
Download and use the LCB Visual above
Send me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) and let me know how you’re using it.
And, email me if you want to talk about how we can facilitate this process for you and your organization.
Early Bird Tickets for our Boot Camp on May 17-18 in Larkspur, CO (just outside of Denver) are available until this Thursday, March 31st. This event will sell out so get your tickets early!
The For Impact Boot Camp is focused on frameworks and skill building – You will leave with the knowledge you need to simplify your message and funding rationale, and take your organization to the next level.
This high-energy, day-and-a-half session covers topics like:
How to execute against a sales process (for major gifts, campaign gifts, transformational gifts, etc.)
How to build and maximize relationships
How to build and lead an effective team
How to ask, close, and follow-up
The Boot Camp is perfect for organizational alums, new hires, or anyone looking to hone individual skills – both personal and professional!
This week’s theme is: Just Ask. Just Ask. Just Ask.
In his book, The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg explores the formation of organizational habits. (You can read this quick summary by BusinessWeek.) One case study examines Alcoa’s remarkable business turn-around in the 80’s/90’s. CEO Paul O’Neill focused the cultural energy (and habits) around safety–more specifically, around the number of safety violations.
We call this the ONE LEVER. Meaning, to maximize team cohesion and culture change you need to focus energy on ONE LEVER at a time to create organizational change.
What will that lever be? Be specific. Be clear.
The Orlando Magic focus on ‘butts in seats’.
FedEx focuses on number of packages that don’t arrive when promised (aiming for zero).
Just about everyone reading this is seeking some form or another of improved funding results.
Call it a culture of philanthropy.
Call it a sales culture.
Call it greater revenue for impact.
Call it funding the vision.
When you’re bringing your team along there is so much ‘other stuff’ that can obscure progress. Events, predisposition activities, reporting, deadlines, board meetings.
As it relates to INCOME DEVELOPMENT the ONE LEVER is – in most every case – the NUMBER OF ASKS.
This is what we emphasize, design-around, message, measure, reinforce.
Obviously a funding goal is pretty important. However that is a RESULT of this measurable activity. Similarly, Alcoa’s leap in quality (and then profits) was a RESULT of increased safety.
One lever: Number of Asks. Preach it. Measure it. It will be transformational. I promise.
Note: It’s not uncommon to see an organization (of any size) with fewer than 10 real-asks per quarter. In fact, it’s a safe bet that by our definition most are at ZERO.
This week’s theme is: Just Ask. Just Ask. Just Ask.
In the For Impact world A REAL ASK satisfies this checklist:
We were WITH a prospect – physically. See Just Visit. There are exceptions to this but 19 times out of 20 the ask is done in person so that there is engagement and dialogue.
We asked the prospect for specific help with a specific project, program or level of support. In doing so the dollar figure was clear. Example: “John, we need your help, would it be possible for you to underwrite this project for $20,000?”It wasn’t open-ended, we didn’t ask, “Could you give whatever you can give?”
Also, in being specific, the funding rationale wasn’t for ‘unrestricted’ or ‘operations’ – those aren’t specific. (See: Have a Funding Rationale)
The ask was a dialogue – a back and forth with questions and listening — so that we could ensure that we were maximizing the relationship at this given moment. Read: The Ask as a Dialogue to help with this concept.
We will expect a YES or a NO – and will follow-up accordingly. Thinking about how to get to a YES or NO ensures you have covered appropriate mechanics and you can continue within a sales process. Otherwise, there is a risk of pending into oblivion or unclear follow-up.
Without the definition provided by this checklist we often find:
A visit is scored as an ask.
There is no real ask – but rather a suggestion that it would be great to have the prospect’s help.
Some psychological shift whereby the salesperson only asks AFTER the prospect says he or she would like to make a gift. That’s not an ask. The relationship certainly wasn’t maximized and it’s an incredibly low return-on-energy methodology.
The salesperson raises money without asking. This is similar to point above. To be clear, just showing up DOES yield funding – this is our point behind JUST VISIT!But, in terms of measurement this is harder to spot (and therefore coach around), and usually shows up because a sales person will report the following:
If you follow this ask checklist, you SHOULD get a ‘no’ from time-to-time.
There was a request for help, but there was no funding rationale or dialogue. We see this with a lot of organizations that ARE raising money. They’re out visiting, they’re asking the prospect to help but they’re not maximizing the relationship. (Not the worst problem in the world – but usually leaving tons of money on the table).
We’re pushing for everyone to be more assertive. That doesn’t mean you always have to ask for funding on the first visit. There are certainly many times where it’s a discovery or predisposition visit (but never 4-5 ‘cultivation’ visits before we ask).
Kerry was with a client last week and they visited with a high capacity prospect for a first time discovery visit. There was no ask, however Kerry did ask for permission to make the ask. She closed the visit by saying to the prospect, “Today we wanted to share the vision and see if we could get you on board with our story. As we move along would it be okay to talk to you about supporting that vision?”
This week’s theme is: ACT/EXECUTE on YOUR ENGAGEMENT STRATEGY!
Julia Cameron, one of my favorite writers/authors/thinkers, shares a terrific quote from poet Theodore Roethke that fits perfectly into our focus on ENGAGEMENT!
“I LEARN by going where I have to GO.” – Theodore Roethke
I believe it has meaning for us as INDIVIDUALS and as SALESPEOPLE.
You learn by going where you have to go – If you want to learn to sell, you need to get face-to-face with more people. If you want to learn to make an ask, then you’ve got to do just that – ASK. If you want to learn to surf or ski or box, then you must practice surfing, skiing, boxing.
Robin Williams told Matt Damon in Good Will Hunting that he had never “done” anything – He only read books. He hadn’t “smelled the paint in the Sistine Chapel, etc.”
I’m sure you get the point.
If we “learn by going” then we need to execute on our plan to VISIT with QUALIFIED PROSPECTS. As much as possible.
P.S. If Roethke is a little existential for you, listen to Brian Tracy, one of the world’s best sales trainers, writers and thinkers, when he summarizes all of sales training into this ‘SIMPLE’ challenge:
This week’s theme is: Set your goals of ENGAGEMENT.
Set your 2016 Goals for Engagement now! These goals need to be SPECIFIC, WRITTEN and MEASURABLE.
Here are 3 Examples:
The ‘33 GIFTS’ Plan
We will ENGAGE with our TOP 50 PROSPECTS in order to generate 33 COMMITMENTS, which will provide 90% of our funding needs!
This will be a SELF-FULFILLING PROPHECY.
E.g. We will generate $1 Million from:
Note: Need $5M? Multiply the right column by 5. (Or 4 for $4M and so on.)
The ‘Spartan 300’ Plan
We will ENGAGE with our BEST 300 prospects (including our Top 33), which will generate buckets of money to Fund Our Vision.
E.g. We have 3 members of our SALES TEAM, and we will collectively make 30 VISITS ENGAGEMENTS a month for 10 months (using August and December for R&R).
We will use a 3x3x3 goal which challenges us to collectively make 3 visits a day, 3 days a week, 3 weeks out of the month.
Note: If you have one member of your sales team, divide this goal accordingly: The ‘Spartan 100’ plan!
The ‘1,000 ENGAGEMENT’ Plan
As a larger For Impact organization with 6 committed Relationship Managers, we will make 1,000 VISITS/PRESENTATIONS this year.
Each of our 6 Relationship Managers will have a Portfolio of 300 Qualified Prospects. Each of us will make 167 VISITS/PRESENTATIONS (ENGAGEMENTS) this year.
We will average 15 QUALITY VISITS a month and do all of the appropriate preparation, predisposition and follow-up.
We will do ‘DISCOVERY’ on every visit and with every prospect. We also commit to make the FULL PRESENTATION around the TRIPLE ASK for TODAY, TOMORROW and FOREVER (Annual Operations, Campaign Priorities and a Legacy/Planned Gift.)
*20% of these 167 visits will become our TOP 33 gifts for each Relationship Manager.