For Impact


Put A Wrapper Around It And Sell As An ‘Initiative’

Message and Case for Support | | Nick Fellers

Put a wrapper on it and sell it as an ‘initiative’.

Increasing enrollment in economically distressed areas is a mouth full… but what if it you called it an ‘urban schools initiative?’

(Case management + domestic violence counseling + parenting skills workshops) is hard to explain to funders (and nobody wants to fund case management because nobody’s really sure what it means)… what if all this together were our ‘healthy families initiative?

Think about the great works you do that don’t fall under a clear project, program or priority and then put a wrapper around it and give it a new name… a new initiative… a way to FRAME your impact.

This is more than just window dressing and buzz talk. It’s you taking credit for what you do and explaining in a way that communicates the totality, the gravity, the impact of your greatest ‘activities’ that don’t fall cleanly into a bucket.

“We have a scholarship program and everyone wants to fund that but we need to replace the tiles in our hallway and add another janitor.” So what you’re saying is one of this year’s PRIORITIES is funding a WORLD CLASS LEARNING ENVIRONMENT.

“We do research and everyone wants to come on board once a trial seems to work but we need to fund our operations for all the other projects.” Ahhhh.. so what you’re saying is you don’t do operations. You do INNOVATION. Let’s drop the annual fund. As of today it’s the ANNUAL INNOVATION FUND!

In Tom’s campaign book he refers to one of the 33 campaign lessons – #4 EVERYTHING’S A PROJECT. This is what he means. You can put your arms around anything and make it a project, priority, program or… an INIATIVE.

Action: Do a brain dump to answer the following this question – “Where does the money go?” Most of you will start to create a list… a long list — put a wrapper around some of that stuff – choose a cool descriptor + initiative. Give the descriptor + initiative a price tag and then (like Emeril): BAM!

We do this exercise at Training Camp. Here is a list and result from a recent attendee:

  • Research best practices for educating kids.

  • Research state content standards.

  • Write lessons and curriculum.

  • We periodically have to review the curriculum and make updates.

  • Print the curriculum.

  • Market to teachers, nationally.

  • Develop a system for teacher feedback.

  • Salaries

  • Develop a professional development course to support teachers.

  • Etc. Etc. Etc.

Each item alone is – blah. But here’s what we came up with to communicate these priorities, succinctly…

  1. R&D ($130K)
  2. Publishing ($80K)
  3. Integrated Health Initiative ($230K)

Does number 3 need some explaining? Sure. Is it better than everything else up there? You bet.