For Impact


The Sales-Driven Funding Operation

For Impact Ideas | | Nick Fellers

I’m preparing to lead a training for a 14-person development operation. We’re going to start off by painting a picture that illustrates WHAT a sales-driven funding operation looks like…what a sales TEAM looks like.

This picture-painting is important because there aren’t any models in the NFP sector.

More than introducing the frameworks, the exercises, and lessons, I believe that if we can challenge the mind to see what a sales culture, performance, and team look like (RE-IMAGINE!), then these bright people will do things that a training can’t.

My notes… you’ll get it.

At 30,000′: Culture/Attitude/Model

  • Team: The very idea of a sales TEAM is radical for most organizations. Who’s on the sales team?
  • Simplicity and Speed (Simple presentation, tools, ask).
  • Celebration! I can’t tell you how many organizations we see that don’t have ANY IDEA how to celebrate. Live a little, people!
  • Audacity (YES we’re asking on the proverbial first date. Because we aren’t here to cultivate, we’re here to save and change lives!)
  • Motivation: Constant! from leadership and from each other. There’s a reason why the motivational/personal development industry is a $26B sector!

14,000′: Strategy

  • Goals: team first; individual goals support the team goals.
  • No silos! When you see a SALES-DRIVEN funding operation you DON’T see a planned giving officer, a major gifts officer, and a principal gifts director. You DON’T see people assigned to different projects. You see ONE TEAM, the members of which can sell ANY PROJECT.
  • Clear Message, Clear Math: It’s impossible to imagine a high-functioning TEAM if we can’t imagine what the ask looks like. It’s got to be clear, simple, repeatable.
  • Metrics: We get what we measure.
  • Master Prospect List: This is the SACRED driver for your operation. It’s the ONE list that ranks and rates your prospects in descending order of importance. HAVE a list. WORK the list.

3′: Execution

  • Listening
  • Engaging
  • Authenticity
  • O3: Stands for “Out Of the Office.” People are not sitting around. They’re OUT OF THE OFFICE making visits, telling the story, selling the vision.


  • SFP: A belief in the self-fulfilling prophecy. Write down goals. Get clarity. Make them happen.
  • Persistence: You get it.
  • No rules: At least not conventional development rules – like the idea that you have to visit seven times before you ask.
  • Infectious enthusiasm – of/from EVERY sales team member. You believe you’re changing the world or you don’t. Those who don’t bring other people UP — elevate the team — are off the bus.
  • Attitude. Attitude. Attitude.