The For Impact Funding Roadmap has been built, tested, and refined in working with thousands of organizations to raise over $2Billion. Though each organization is unique, we believe the Roadmap has universal application – Whether you’re a startup, a college running a large campaign, or an international NGO – every funding initiative needs a STORY, a TEAM, and a FUNDING PROCESS. [Download Roadmap image here.]
Here are some quick thoughts on the Roadmap. [We’re also leading a teleseminar this Tuesday with more explanation, examples and help to APPLY the Funding Road Map to your funding. Register here.] Design your STORY The funding roadmap begins with STORY. A great story is anchored in hope-filled purpose, simplifies what you do, and serves as a litmus for action.
Design your PRESENTATION. The ‘ASK’ is an experience. We actually stop to think about the complete experience, from predisposition, to the environment, to the materials.
Really important point about STORY. This is not just a ‘funding thing’ – It guides your IMPACT and provides MEANING for your TEAM. Organizations so often enter a cycle of strategic planning – I wish there was a norm to enter into a cycle of STORY planning!
Develop your TEAM Jim Collins says, “First WHO, then WHAT.” With our Funding Roadmap we might say, “First WHY, then WHO, then WHAT!”
Commit to SALES. Every organization needs to STOP and make a commitment to sales. What does this mean for your team? For your organization? For your strategy/resources?
Engage LEADERSHIP. Leadership needs to be bought into the STORY and likely even the source of the STORY. Leadership also needs to be bought into the model.
Model TEAM SELLING. This is about defining roles and responsibilities for staff, board and champions. Important note: In a true sales model, your board is not responsible for fundraising! In a true sales model there is a role for board members that is very different from saying they are responsible for fundraising.
FUND your VISION
Identify/ Prioritize/ Strategize your PROSPECTS. Prospects. Drive. Everything. There is a lot to say on prospects (that’s why we have a whole guidebook) but here are some key points:
When building a strategy ask this question, “What would it look like to maximize this relationship?”
Maximize relationships at this given moment
Just VISIT. In the words of the prolific sales trainer, Brian Tracy, “Spend more time with better prospects.” We’ve been teaching this for years. There is so much value in the old maxim, “JUST SHOW UP.” The visit is the entire context for the ASK. It has three parts:
Just ASK. This is kind of an alpha/omega to everything we teach.
Finally, it’s worth tying this all together as it relates to the For Impact Point of View:
Here’s a topic that comes up often with some of our coaching clients – Especially when there is lack of role clarity around maximizing relationships!
A NATURAL PARTNER (N.P.) is a person (either inside or outside of your organization) who has a strong relationship with your organization and an existing relationship with the Qualified Prospect(Q.P.) – Or a reason to believe one can be established quickly!
Externally, Natural Partners can be on your Board, they can have a business relationship with the prospect, they can be members of the same club or organization or they can be fellow community leaders, etc.
Internally, the Natural Partner can be anyone from the President/Executive Director to top senior leadership, to a staff/programming person who has a great relationship with the prospect.
It’s important that you determine the difference between a RELATIONSHIP MANAGER (R.M.) and a NATURAL PARTNER.
The RELATIONSHIP MANAGER does not necessarily have to have an existing relationship with the prospect. Their job is to do exactly what it says – MANAGE THE RELATIONSHIP. The Relationship Manager is always a member of the ‘Green Team’ – I.e., directly responsible for maximizing relationships on behalf of the organization/impact. It is perfectly fine for multiple people within the organization to have a relationship with a Q.P. – as long as the Relationship Manager has been defined.
The NATURAL PARTNER can have an existing relationship, or the ability to create one immediately, but most importantly, they play and instrumental role in Team Selling. They can:
Help get the visit! Opening doors is one of the most productive things N.P. can do!
Predispose the Prospect to a great visit! A N.P. can send a great note ahead of the visit – “I know you’re meeting with Sharon on Friday – I’m so excited for the two of you to meet, for you to hear about the vision and getting more involved in our impact! I’ll check in with you after”
Follow Up! A call from the Natural Partner (after a check in with the R.M.) can be hugely beneficial. “How did it go? What did you think? What can I do to help?”
I’m consistently reminded by clients and boot camp alums of the power this one insight has on them.
Don’t make decisions for your prospects.
Most recently, I got a note from the head of advancement for a college who told me this ONE insight TRANSFORMED fundraising for him in 2016. So, I think this is the perfect insight to reflect on as we start the new year.
Don’t assume the prospect has a ‘giving level’ just because they gave at X the past three years. Maybe they haven’t been asked.
Get comfortable with the Clueless Close. This is a great example of a way to ask – authentically – in which you’re not making a decision for the prospect.
Use this insight to question assumptions. At some point this year a natural partner will say to you, “You should ask for $X. That’s the right number for this prospect.” Unless that statement is product of extraordinary strategy and dialogue with the prospect, don’t make a decision to LIMIT the ask. (Don’t worry about under-asking or over-asking. (See tip #6 in 9 Tips to Help You Get to the Ask.) When you catch this thinking you can coach yourself by asking, “What would this prospect give if they were totally committed to the impact? If this was their number one cause?” See if you can build your comfort to ask from this place. Related: I sometimes find myself saying (with TOTAL authenticity), “It’s not my job to try and decide the appropriate investment level for you. It’s my job to make sure I make the best case for how we can have an impact and then let you decide if that’s right for you.”
Guard against the voice inside that says, “Maybe now is not the right time to ask.” We exist to save lives, change lives and impact lives. Deciding it’s not the right time to give a prospect the opportunity to save, change and impact lives goes against everything we are trying to teach.
Point of emphasis: This is an insight (or a guiding perspective), not a strategy.
This is an excerpt from the forthcoming For Impact Guidebook about Leadership Circles.
Every organization should have some form of Leadership Circle. In its simplest form, this is ONE baseline-major-gift level of support, positioned as the cornerstone of your annual fund. The Leadership Circle is not just another giving level – It’s a funding program and a strategic pillar of your funding model that qualifies prospects, simplifies stewardship, provides flexible funding and annuity! You’ve heard of Occam’s Razor; this is ‘Occam’s Ask’. It’s set at ONE level between $1K and $10K – messaged around your mission and vision in a way that represents your simplest and strongest sell.
HOW TO MESSAGE: (Examples)
STORY: “We would like to invite you to be part of the Leadership Circle – a group of 100 families, individuals and/or businesses that are extremely committed to the mission of the YWCA. Membership requires a minimum $10,000 investment in the fund, renewable annually. Each year, these funds will be used to make the biggest impact in the areas of after school programming, innovation and scholarships. But, ultimately,The Leadership Circle is about investing in our vision to transform our community.”
COLLECTIVE IMPACT: “This Leadership Circle level is significant because the collective power of its members – providing the core funding support that allows the YWCA to be an efficient organization, responding to the most important needs of women and families in our community. Additionally, this Leadership Circle has the impact of $2M in endowment for each 10 members.”
In working with over 1,000 organizations, I can’t think of a time when an organization didn’t benefit from a Leadership Circle. As a tool, its versatility rivals duct tape.
A FEW WAYS TO USE THE LEADERSHIP CIRCLE:
As a QUALIFIER. The Leadership Circle can be a GREAT ASK on a first visit. The story around the Leadership Circle should be tied to your simplest and strongest sell and if someone commits the $10K then you KNOW they are serious about your impact.
As a component of your overall FUNDING MODEL and CASE. It’s helpful for top funders to see that you’re building a base. This should offset the perception (and reality) that you’re going back to the well with the same funders again and again. It’s really helpful to be able to show (in your plan) that at the same time you are asking for LEADERSHIP SUPPORT, you are also building giving-based-relationships through the Leadership Circle.
As a MOMENTUM BUILDER. If you’re working on leadership support for a major project the Leadership Circle can be a powerful momentum builder. It’s one thing to go to your board and announce you THINK you will have some leaders on board. It’s another to back that up with the cash flow and commitments from 20 new memberships in your Leadership Circle.
As an ANNUITY and ENDOWMENT EQUIVALENT. The membership base of support becomes an annuity. For example, 20 families at $10K is $200K per year which is the equivalent of having $4M in endowment!
As a FOCUSED way to TEST and BUILD TALENT. Having a Leadership Circle offers a safety valve for new salespeople. “When you don’t know what else to do, ask for a membership.” This is a clarifying directive. Asking for a membership does not eliminate the potential for a larger gift – if anything it qualifies the relationship (offering objective insight to the sales manager.) If a new major gifts officer fails to close a $1M gift it could be for a number of reasons. Maybe it’s a prospecting issue. Maybe it’s the story. However, anyone should be able to close Leadership Circle membership. Having developed dozens and dozens of new major gifts officers, I cannot emphasize the importance of this idea. It’s the simplest way to build confidence and funding momentum.
As an engagement strategy that PAYS. ‘Nuff said.
As a STEWARDSHIP CIRCLE. Get rid of all events and focus that energy on just providing stewardship and thanks to your Leadership Circle investors! Here is an idea, make it someone’s job to simply get every member of the Leadership Circle to your organization to SEE the impact (return-on-investment) in a given year. Good things will happen.
As ‘BUDGET RELIEF.’ Everyone wants ‘unrestricted funding’. A better message would be around budget relief. I would encourage you to try and create a funding model in which the Leadership Circle monies are unbudgeted. You can then report back to membership the IMPACT of their COLLECTIVE investment.
As a way to get into a PLANNED GIFT. Participation in the Leadership Circle for a few years offers a rationale to get ask for a planned gift to PROTECT the annual gift. “You’ve been giving $10K every year as a member of the Leadership Circle. Could we ask you to PROTECT that with a gift from your estate?” A $200K planned gift would ‘protect’ the $10K. Bonus: This can also be part of a TRIPLE ASK.
We’re big on the need to have one Master Prospect List! A great MPL rates and ranks your entire pool of Qualified Prospects/Relationships in descending order or importance. However, deciding who you’re going to see first is very different from simply starting at the top of your Master Prospect List and working your way down.
Instead, begin like Archimedes on his best day by trying to LEVERAGE your commitments – building on each visit and commitment as you move along.
Here’s a great way to think about ordering your visits: ‘MO-COs,’ ‘LEAD-COs’ and ‘CO-COs’.
MO-COs are MOMENTUM COMMITMENTS.
These commitments are not necessarily about magnitude or size but rather ‘COMMENSURATE’… ‘SURPRISE’… ‘STRETCH’ gifts. These are the ‘EARLY ADOPTERS’ who get it, buy in, and provide the MOMENTUM to get going. In Good To Great, Jim Collins’ would call these ‘FLYWHEEL’ commitments. In order to get a FLYWHEEL moving at the beginning, it takes a lot of energy. But once there is some MOMENTUM… the wheel flies!
LEAD-CO’s are LEADERSHIP COMMITMENTS.
LEADERSHIP can literally TRANSFORM the organization, the campaign or the project. These are ‘Top of the Pyramid’ lead gifts that prove that our best prospects and investors have stepped up and give everyone the confidence needed to make the campaign or project happen.
“LEADERS LEAD.” – Bob Werner
Thanks to my friend Bob, a big time Mensch and Jewish philanthropic superstar, for the quote. I believe that success (or failure) is a direct result of LEADERS LEADING. If no one steps up as the INTERNAL leader, a campaign is doomed from the get go. If you can’t find at least one EXTERNAL leader or CHAMPION, it ain’t gonna happen either. (My preference is 3 CHAMPIONS.)
If leaders are not ENGAGED and PASSIONATE, then it becomes ‘The Suddes Group Campaign’ or ‘The Executive Director’s Campaign’, etc. Tom Mucks, another successful former Suddes Group partner, says, simply: “Passion and commitment from LEADERSHIP will overcome all obstacles.”
CO-CO’S are CONNECTOR COMMITMENTS.
Going after some of your most important ‘CONNECTORS’ early on is a terrific strategy to not only get their financial commitment (which may or may not be significant) but also to generate REFERRALS and STRATEGY on getting visits with your best prospects.
SPECIAL NOTE ON REFERRALS AND 3º OF SEPARATION:
Remember you are only 3º away from any QUALIFIED PROSPECT!! (Forget Kevin Bacon and his 6º – It’s actually been determined that it’s 2.78 ‘moves’/connections between Bacon and all other actors.) CONNECTORS and other NATURAL PARTNERS allow you to be one or two CONTACTS away from your best prospects. This is very, very important! Realizing you are only 3º away from ANYBODY who is a QUALIFIED PROSPECT lets you use your NATURAL PARTNERS (Champions, Board Members, Key Volunteer Leaders, Current Investors) to get you there.
Extra Special Note: I am only 3º away from the Pope, the President and the Prime Minister of Israel. And, I’m only 2º away from the Dalai Lama! How? Because of my CONNECTIONS and RELATIONSHIPS, I can get to ‘someone’ who can get to ‘someone’ who can get to the Pope, the President and the Prime Minister.
From the archives, but still relevant today – Read on for how to avoid Vocabulary Wars.
Last week we were with an organization that helps homeless people find and secure permanent housing. The Executive Director of this organization had spent the last 10 years – off and on – trying to get three specific area Foundations ‘on board.’ In that time, some $10K grants had been awarded but for the most part the Foundations said, “We don’t fund projects like yours.”
The mission statements for the foundations were almost identical to that of this homelessness organization. And, each Foundation had funded similar agencies working in the homeless arena.
After some discussion, I realized that the challenge has been vocabulary, not fit. For example:
This organization receives about $1M annually from the government — to be used for ‘capital’. It turned out that ‘capital’ in this definition meant anything that had to do with the actual home or residence (including programs to get into the residence.) In the case of this organization, the ‘home’ was the OBJECTIVE of the program. Kind of hard to end homelessness without a home somewhere in the equation… no?
The Foundations avoided ‘capital’ projects. It turned out the ‘capital’ meant ‘capital campaign’ to the them – bricks and mortar, campaign committees, fancy office chairs, etc.
The organization had structured all of its internal vocabulary based on conversations with the government. These vocabulary words were deal killers with the private foundations who heard “capital campaign” when they wanted to focus on more “programs for the homeless.” (I’m not making this up.)
So, here’s what we did:
We coached the organization’s senior leadership to go back to one of the Foundations. This time the organizations was to ask questions, listen and use the Foundation’s vocabulary to advance a discussion.
The key questions to ask were, “What is the biggest challenge you’re seeing with respect to ending homeless in this area? How are you working to address that challenge?”
The Foundation said it felt a lack of ‘housing opportunities’ were available to the working poor and that it was trying to identify agencies that worked as a catalyst to create more opportunities. Note: The most critical point of this entire story is probably right here. The organization had to LISTEN to the foundation to pull off the right ask.
The organization’s leadership was then able to position its work as a ‘catalyst to create more housing opportunities’.
Both the foundation and the organization leadership described the ensuing conversation as ‘electric’ and ‘exciting.‘ They will be meeting again next month to talk about a multi-year financial partnership.
For 10 years, would-be partners had failed to align for what amounted to a vocabulary war. At times the relationship was even contentious – there were debates and arguments between foundation heads and leaders in this organization about right/wrong and ‘justice’ in funding.
It’s important to realize in this story that at 30,000’ they were in COMPLETE alignment: all parties were trying to end homelessness. The fact that the homeless organization was getting a token $10K here and there was an indicator that there was alignment on the CAUSE (WHY), but not the CASE (WHAT). The relationship was advanced – light speed – by really, really listening and aligning the solution in terms the funder understood.
The only way to avoid a vocabulary war is to listen.
Note: In the actual coaching I said to the ED, “I want you just to listen.. to really understand the foundation’s challenges. When you hear a word you don’t understand, ask them to define it. Keep listening until you can say, ‘wait a minute, we can help solve that!’”.
It’s bringing the Qualified Prospect or potential/current investor TO YOU!!!
Short. Sweet. Powerful. An idea that you can use immediately to significantly increase the level of investment from your top prospects. This idea is particularly relevant if you are in a ‘CAMPAIGN’ or trying to involve/engage your top prospects at the leadership gift level.
I’ll say it again: The absolute best PREDISPOSITION is to bring your BEST PROSPECTS to WHERE YOU DELIVER YOUR SERVICE!!!
This seems so natural and ‘commonsensical’. (That could be a new word.) Yet, to so many people we train and work with, this is a big revelation.
Don’t tell me you can’t get people to come and visit you. I didn’t say it was easy. I said it will significantly increase the magnitude of the commitment!
If they’re really and truly a great PROSPECT, then they need to SEE and FEEL and TOUCH what you do – the ‘HOME COURT ADVANTAGE’ is very powerful! (At Colleges and Universities we call this GTC: GET TO CAMPUS!)
Bringing your prospects/potential investors TO YOU – where you can control the environment, the flow, the tour/agenda – is one hundred times better than their office or home, and 1,000 times better than a restaurant.
IF “A PICTURE is worth a THOUSAND WORDS.”
THEN “A LIVE MEMORABLE EXPERIENCE is worth a MILLION words.”
We have used the MPL tool to run hundreds of campaigns and major gifts initiatives. It’s simple and powerful. Rate your top prospects to create a Master Prospect List in descending order of importance. Then focus all your time (literally) on your top ten prospects — you will be amazed by the results.
Each prospect receives a rating in each category 1-5 (5 being the highest). The sum weighted total of ratings in each of the five categories will give you the Qualified Prospect Index – You need to visit with anyone 90 and higher today!
Definition of Key Terms
Relationship Manager (RM)
This is the person within your organization that manages the relationship — does not have to be the point of contact but must responsible for thinking about this prospect every day.
This is a person, internal or external to your organization that has the closest relationship to the prospect.
This number is the prospect’s capacity to make a major gift – a gift level that is worthy of one-on-one time with a prospect. This is not an indication of what you think the prospect WILL invest in your organization – it is an indication of what you think the prospect COULD give.
This is an indication of the prospect’s relationship to your organization or to your cause. If this prospect is on your board it should be a five (5). If, for example, you are the American Cancer Society, and this prospect is a cancer survivor, the rating should be a five (5) even with no gift history.
5 – Specific interest in our organization or cause
4 – Heavily invested in our cause or within a sector or geography in which we operate
Generally timing is always a five (5) unless you have specific knowledge otherwise.
What is this prospect’s giving history to your organization? You might determine that a five (5) on the rating scale indicates lifetime giving of $100,000+ or ten consecutive years in your Leadership Society. Below is an example using higher numbers.
5 – Has given multiple lifetime gifts and/or has given $1M lifetime
4 – Has given one or multiple gifts and/or has given $100k lifetime
3 – Has given one or multiple gifts and/or has given $10k lifetime
2 – Has given 1 lifetime gift and/or has given $1k liftetime
1 – Has never given and/or has given less than $1k lifetime
Philanthropy (or Gut Feeling)
This is a measure of the prospect’s general willingness to give. Has he or she supported other organizations? Is it a foundation (5)? Do we have a good feeling about them? Give it a 5! This is also where I take into account the person who reaches out to us first or has said, “I want to help.” or “I want to do something big, can we talk?” Give that a 5 as well.
In our work with thousands of organizations, staff and volunteers, this is the most FREQUENTLY ASKED (BIG, BIG, BIG) QUESTION:
“WHERE DO WE FIND NEW PROSPECTS?”
MY ANSWER: THIS IS THE WRONG QUESTION!!!
It’s not about ‘NEW’ PROSPECTS, it’s about the BEST PROSPECTS!
Why look for ‘New’ Prospects when you haven’t MAXIMIZED RELATIONSHIPS with your BEST and most QUALIFIED PROSPECTS!
FUNDING YOUR VISION is usually about your TOP 33 INVESTORS and perhaps your BEST 300 QUALIFIED PROSPECTS. Many of these top prospects are most likely sitting right in front of you… right now! (Not literally, but pretty darn close.)
The reason many of you are looking for ‘NEW’ prospects is because you believe:
“Our Old Prospects are tired of giving.”
“We have gone to the well too many times.”
“We can’t go back to our best prospects for more money.”
“We are taking advantage of our current relationship with our top prospects.”
To this, I would add 3 other thoughts coming from your current top givers that I also believe are very fair:
“I want you to get other people involved besides me.”
“I want you to broaden the base of support.”
“I don’t want to be the only one funding this organization or this project.”
While ‘expanding your base’ and ‘bringing in new relationships’ is important to your organization, it’s not the ‘ANSWER’ to your funding challenges!!!
I’d like to challenge your thinking with this idea: LOOK IN YOUR OWN BACKYARD!
Stop ‘searching the world’ for new prospects/ fresh money. Before you figure out how to get to Bill Gates or Warren Buffet or the Walton’s…look to your own CHAMPIONS who have the strongest interest in your Cause and your Case.
Here are 3 stories to reinforce this idea of ‘YOUR OWN BACKYARD’.
Russell H. Conwell wrote one of the most powerful and motivational classics of all time, Acres of Diamonds, published in 1921. Conwell actually gave his speech entitled “ACRES OF DIAMONDS” more than 5,000 times and earned enough in this effort to help found Temple University!
Here are summarized versions of 3 STORIES in the book that I hope will have a huge IMPACT on your thinking about ‘NEW’ PROSPECTS.
GOLD. In 1847, a man who owned a ranch in Northern California heard that gold had been discovered somewhere in Southern California. He sold his ranch to a Colonel Sutter, and then went south to search for gold and riches, never to return.
Colonel Sutter put a mill on that stream. One day, he discovered flakes of gold in the spill off. Sutter’s discovery, in 1849, started the CALIFORNIA GOLD RUSH!
DIAMONDS. An old Persian farmer was desperate for riches. He sold his farm, collected his money, left his family and went off in into the garden to drink. As the camel put his nose in the shallow water of the garden brook, the new owner saw a flash of brilliance and reached in and pulled out a diamond (in the rough). This discovery became the famous diamond mine of GOLCONDA!
OIL. In Pennsylvania, another farmer sold his farm to take a job with his cousin, who was looking for coal oil in Canada. He, too, was searching for wealth… in other places.
According to the county records, the farmer sold his farm for $833.
The new owner found oil… on that same farm. That oil was eventually worth hundreds of millions of dollars, and this discovery became the PENNSYLVANIA OIL FIELDS!
I hope the moral in all of these stories are clear and evident.