For Impact


The Three Pillars of the Funding Experience

Story | | Nick Fellers

“Message is what people hear, it’s not what people say.” – Frank Luntz

Going further with this idea, we (at For Impact) would say ENGAGEMENT results from what people EXPERIENCE; it’s not just what people HEAR.

As it relates to sales (or really any type of engagement), clearly we need to think about more than message. We need to conceptualize the TOTAL EXPERIENCE: MESSAGE, APPROACH, and CONTEXT.

Let’s think about the EXPERIENCE of the ASK.

  • Message: It needs to be simple. You need a strong story and a clear funding rationale.
  • Approach: Your results will depend on whether your are delivering this ‘message’ to a room full of people — or to another individual one-on-one. Engagement will be 10X higher if you visit one-on-one! Moreover, if you really home in on the SCIENCE of ENGAGEMENT (dialogue, use of visuals, listening, etc.), we know that engagement can be 30X higher than if you delivered the message to an audience from a stage.
  • Context: Any comedian will tell you CONTEXT IS CRITICAL. This is why they do warm-up acts (PREDISPOSITION). WHERE you do the ask matters. As does WHO is doing the ask. SNL Creator Lorne Michaels famously coaches new cast members: The Beatles had to play Love Me Do before they created The White Album. A veteran SNL rock star has more audience leeway with message (jokes) and approach (skits) than a newbie.Conventional wisdom often says a board member should be the person to ‘make the ask.’ We don’t think that’s true!!! What’s (universally) true is that context matters, and that the leadership needs to be represented as part of the ask process.

    Conventional wisdom is weak in terms of message and approach, and so it tries to overcompensate by putting the responsibility for engagement on the shoulders of the board member.

If you’re struggling with commitments — a form of ENGAGEMENT — think about where you can improve in these three areas of the experience: message, approach and context.

If you still need help, speak to one of our coaches (reply to this email). We offer a select number of (free) coaching calls for alumni and readers of the WOW emails each month. This is our method of impacting the sector and building relationships through the WOW readership.