For Impact


Today, Tomorrow, Forever Funding Framework

WOW Email | | Nick Fellers

This is a simple framework we first started to develop 25+ years ago with private schools as a way of asking annual fund supporters to continue to impact students TODAY while investing in priorities that would benefit the school TOMORROW. (It was a way of ensuring continued participation in the annual fund AND making a special gift for a bricks and mortar project.)

Over the years we’ve continued to tweak how we apply the framework to benefit almost any funding initiative, for any sized organization, in any sector. It’s now a versatile tool to help you navigate a funding conversation and maximize a relationship.

Use this framework to:

  • Get numbers on the table. A big part of success is simply getting numbers on the table for dialogue and engagement. In our experience funding conversations happen 40% more frequently simply because the numbers are there — in front of you and the prospect, on a sheet of paper. They can’t be avoided! Even if you’re insecure the funder will often take over and start talking about ways they can help.

  • Qualify. There are many ways to do this. One is to use a Clueless Close. A second way is to ask someone to join the Leadership Society as a qualifying ask.

  • Predispose for later ask(s). Let’s suppose you have a campaign or a special project on the horizon. You can visit TODAY and start discussions about what they might fund TOMORROW.

  • Talk about Planned Giving, often! With most organizations planned giving is a ‘someday maybe’ idea. Or, we only discuss it when someone requests information. Using this framework you can

  • Maximize relationships using the Triple Ask! (Watch the explainer video above for more.)

  • Reframe Annual Fund / Capital Campaign. Historically organizations asked supporters to make an annual contribution. Periodically they would organize a special ‘capital campaign’ for special needs. While there might be circumstances where this is still a good strategy, many organizations either should ALWAYS be in campaign mode or, at least, ALWAYS be funding using a tomorrow and tomorrow funding model to fund operations + special projects.

Applying the framework:

  • Keep it simple! You don’t have to use this framework. It’s just a helpful tool. If you’re raising money for one project, or a special campaign, don’t get too cute by trying to adopt the framework to your presentation.
  • For younger organizations: you might benefit from talking about impact TODAY and TOMORROW (you might not need FOREVER).
  • Three ways to think about TODAY/TOMORROW/FOREVER. I walk through these in the explainer video above.