For Impact


The Simple Idea that Changes Everything

Change, Examples, Productivity, On Prospects, Funding Strategy | | Nick Fellers

Last week Tom and I were with a Benedictine prep school in New Jersey. We were discussing the importance of focusing on top prospects in the development plan when one of the board members asked this question:

“What type of results should we expect if we visit with each of our top 100 prospects?”

Being the ‘helpful outsider’, I gave that wonderfully ambiguous answer: “It depends.”

After thinking for a moment I was able to offer an epiphany that was a bit more insightful…

I’ve never been with an organization which made a commitment to focus on its top 10 prospects that wasn’t completely and totally transformed (in ways beyond funding results).

That’s a long-winded epiphany — I will restate: If you focus on your top 10 prospects it will transform your organization (period).
This is a simple (not easy) idea that changes everything.

The secondary epiphany is that most organizations gloss over their top 10 prospects to make selective visits with prospects 11-100 (if and when they’re making visits).

Why aren’t more organizations transformed by their top 10?

  • They don’t stop to ask the question, “Who are our top 10 prospects?”
  • It’s easier to focus on prospects 11-100.
  • They give up on the top 10 at the first sign of uncertainty. (eg. “The prospect did not return our phone call… she must not be interested.”)
  • They have not yet committed to ‘sales’ and are therefore not out making asks.
  • They have ‘top of the pyramid’ call reluctance because:
    • They can’t communicate the vision/mission/message.
    • They haven’t been trained to sell and therefore fear messing it up.


  • Make a commitment today to focus your energy on your top 10 prospects.
  • Make a commitment to visit with them, share the story, and present the opportunity within the next year.
  • Don’t back down from this commitment*.
  • E-mail me ( on August 13, 2008 with your transformational success story. I would be equally interested (and very surprised) to hear from you if you truly made this commitment and weren’t wildly successful in your funding efforts.

*If you have encounter any of the challenges above join us at a training camp to remove the challenges [more powerful than a plug; it’s a statement of action].