August 12, 2010 | Tom Suddes

Hire When It Hurts

Reading a really terrific book called REWORK by the founders of 37 Signals. As are almost all of the books I really, really love, this is simply a collection of nuggets, loosely framed.

Read the chapter on HIRING this morning.

Three of the twelve nuggets really jumped out at me.

    1. Hire when it hurts. “Don’t hire for pleasure; hire to kill pain.” I can’t tell you how many organizations I’ve been around that desperately want to hire a ‘Major Gift Officer‘ or more ‘Major Gift Officers’!

    Nobody has prioritized their top prospects (Master Prospect List). Nobody in the organization has visited with their Top 10 or Top 20 or Top 33. There’s no Message, no Math, no Model.

    Yet, we think hiring another development person/MGO is going to make some kind of difference. Read more

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August 11, 2010 | Tom Suddes

Success = the Quality of Our Relationships

Was listening to Success audio in the car. Loved Ken Dychtwald’s interview by Darren Hardy.

Dychtwald’s definition of SUCCESS is based on the QUALITY OF RELATIONSHIPS IN YOUR LIFE!

That’s also a pretty good definition for all of us in the development, aka fundraising, world.

P.S. He talks about the STAGES OF SUCCESS. He uses different words but here’s how I interpreted it. As we age, we ‘measure’ success based on


Ultimately, we realize that none of these are important! Rather, it’s all about PURPOSE!

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August 11, 2010 | Nick Fellers

Ask for a project instead of guessing a number

For Impact Message: Impact Drives Income.

As it applies to the ask… one example. Use a project to drive the ask. That is, if you have a project that is going to require $80K to fund, ask for the project… the IMPACT (rationalizing $80K) instead of just trying to guess a number that you think ‘will be a stretch but not too much of a stretch’.

You will never know EXACTLY what to ask for so instead of guessing, communicate the need.

“The program we just discussed would require about $80K per year… impacting about 300 women and families. Is that something you could help us with?”

If it’s too much, the prospect will let you know. If too little.. that’s okay, you have a lifetime relationship and you can certainly talk to the prospect about other projects.

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August 10, 2010 | Nick Fellers

Top Idea in your Mind: Impact or Income?

Paul Graham is reinventing funding and start-up culture in Silicon Valley with Y-Combinator (see Inc article).

In July he posted an essay on ‘The Top Idea in Your Mind‘.

I think most people have one top idea in their mind at any given time. That’s the idea their thoughts will drift toward when they’re allowed to drift freely. And this idea will thus tend to get all the benefit of that type of thinking, while others are starved of it. Which means it’s a disaster to let the wrong idea become the top one in your mind.

The concept is spot on, I think. I think he’s also essentially supporting to our main message point: Impact Drives Income. He explained that when you’re raising money, that’s the thing that becomes ‘top of mind’. Then, the product suffers.

What’s interesting for those reading this however, is that for us the funder, making an IMPACT is top of mind.

Paul also closes with some good thoughts on wasting brain space with negative thoughts and energy: don’t.

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August 9, 2010 | Nick Fellers

4th Annual Campaign Week: Tons of Resources

Shark Week has ended but Campaign Week is just starting. All week long we’re hosting training, providing coaching and giving away campaign resources.

This is the fourth annual. Check out the full schedule and get some virtual swag. More info.

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August 6, 2010 | Nick Fellers

The Motivational Mug

We had some cool mugs made with our For Impact message points. I don’t really want to get into the business of selling and shipping mugs but I would love to get some of these into the hands of regular readers. First ten to comment… we’ll ship you one.

Edit: Okay all.. WOW.. way more responses than I anticipated. Several extra comments below and a lot of emails. Have setup a new way to get a mug… Share your Story. Thanks!

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August 6, 2010 | Tom Suddes

Invisible Children

Just listened to the CD that comes in every Success Magazine and was surprised/excited to hear an interview with the Founders and the CEO of Invisible Children. Nick and I have worked with Ben and his team and they are absolutely amazing. If you get a copy of the magazine, make sure you listen to the audio!

Take a look at some of the amazing stuff that INVISIBLE CHILDREN team has accomplished.

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August 6, 2010 | Nick Fellers

There can only be ONE leader on a visit.

Just off the phone with a team that’s prepping for a big visit this afternoon. We were doing a last minute strategic run-through. On this visit it’s going to be the ED, a Director of Development and the prospect. They’re going to be doing a tour followed by a sit-down discussion about an $8M effort.

As part of the process we always establish ONE leader. This is the person that is responsible for managing the FLOW of the visit.

One thing’s for certain. No visit ever goes as planned. If you’re on the team it’s imperative to know the ONE person that’s responsible for getting to the goal.

Can’t be two leaders. Worse than two leaders is establishing no lead.

If I’m leading I will advise the other person, “If if things seem totally de-railed I will have a plan in my head I’m following. It’s important I communicate that so you don’t panic if we seem way off track.” Having done this now hundreds and hundreds of times I will let the prospect lead a lot… because I want to listen.

If it’s my first visit with a team member I’ll tell them to imagine a physical ball. Just like one of those retreats, you can only talk when you have the ball. I will carry the ball. When the prospect opens her mouth she ALWAYS has the ball. And, in order to manage the flow of the call I will deliberately pass the ball. For example, “Jim, could I ask you to share a little bit with Ms. Prospect about our outreach program?”

One leader. Not two. Not three. Definitely not zero.

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August 5, 2010 | Tom Suddes

The More You Give… The More You Get.

Early a.m. Coffee. Outside at Eagle Creek. Reading my new SUCCESS MAGAZINE. My ideal start to a day.

September’s issue of Success Magazine has ‘GIVING’ as its central theme. I strongly urge anyone in the For Impact World to go get a copy and read it cover to cover!

Not only will this help you better understand your investors/benefactors (aka donors)… it will make a difference in your life!

Cover story on Michael and Susan Dell and their foundation is excellent. There are articles on Everyday Giving, Giving Back, Well-Being, Be Happy and much more.

The big thing that jumped out at me was something that I’ve known for a long time but couldn’t quantify:


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August 5, 2010 | Nick Fellers = Awesomeness

This one’s making its way through twitter and the web’s pretty fast… and it should.

You probably already know about the Gates/Buffet challenge to Billionaires, asking them to pledge to give away half their fortunes.

Now they have a dead simple website: It includes the pledge letter from each billionaire. I haven’t been through all the letters but they’re pretty powerful and most offer some insight. That is, they’re not just some fluffy PR letter but show a genuine glimpse into the thinking of these committed philanthropists.

Making an ask soon? I urge you to read a few of these letters before heading out. While these may be 40 letters from Billionaires, I assure you the only difference between them and the person you may ask for $100K is the level of organized thinking around common thoughts and desires. Your neighborhood philanthropist has these SAME feelings, thoughts… just hasn’t taken the time to be as formal in outlining the WHY and the STRATEGY.

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