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Nonprofit Radio for November 8, 2021: Strategic Plan. Done. Now Pay For It.

My Guest:

Sherry Quam Taylor: Strategic Plan. Done. Now Pay For It.

It’s a common challenge. The strategic plan is ambitious, but there’s not enough revenue to fund all the future excitement. Sherry Quam Taylor returns to get to the root problems that are holding your nonprofit back from full revenue potential. She’s CEO of Quam Taylor, LLC.

 

 

 

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[00:00:02.84] spk_2:
Hello

[00:01:43.74] spk_1:
and welcome to tony-martignetti non profit radio Big nonprofit ideas for the other 95%. I’m your aptly named host of your favorite abdominal podcast. Oh, I’m glad you’re with me. I’d suffer the effects of tinnitus if I had to hear that you missed this week’s show. Strategic plan done now pay for it. It’s a common challenge. The strategic plan is ambitious, but there’s not enough revenue to fund all the future excitement. Sherry, Kwame Taylor returns to get to the root problems that are holding your nonprofit back from full revenue potential. She’s Ceo of KWAme Taylor LLC. I’m Tony’s take to holiday time off. We’re sponsored by turn to communications. Pr and content for nonprofits. Your story is their mission turn hyphen two dot c o What a pleasure to welcome Sherri Kwame Taylor back to nonprofit radio She’s Ceo of KWAme Taylor LLC. She works with nonprofit ceos and boards are struggling to secure the unrestricted revenue needed to fulfill the dreams in their strategic plans. Sure. He helps them reimagine their entire approach to revenue generation and reveals how they can break free from the limitations of traditional fundraising. Our consulting practice is at KWAme taylor dot com Sherry. Welcome back to nonprofit radio

[00:01:46.14] spk_0:
tony How are you? I’m well, good. Thanks for having Yeah, Thanks for having me. I was excited to see this pop up on my calendar today.

[00:01:54.80] spk_1:
You weren’t planning for

[00:01:56.77] spk_0:
it for a week. I mean, yeah. As I worked all weekend long for my, for my content. Yes.

[00:02:01.75] spk_1:
You’ve been struggling at it, not struggling but you’ve been working on for weeks. Right?

[00:02:05.64] spk_0:
Yes, I’m so nervous.

[00:02:21.44] spk_1:
All right. So, so I outlined the problem in the introduction. But before we get to those root problems shouldn’t funding be a part of the strategic plan? So that the plan and its financing are considered together and not separately, ideally.

[00:03:27.14] spk_0:
You’re speaking my language already tony Yeah, it really should. But the problem is so many organizations come to me with a strategic plan that has all these amazing ideas, amazing next steps, you know, growing their programs and mission. But the strategic initiative kind of says we need more money or more major gifts or we should do more of these things. And so it actually, I find that it’s addressing more of the symptoms of an organization’s, who’s funding has maybe plateaus or maybe they just kind of raised the same amount of money every year. But oftentimes the funding problem and more times than not, it’s actually fixed at the root. And so yes, it should be included in there. And yes, it always is. But so often, uh, you know, I have a client now who, who’s brought me their strategic plan, it’s like we had this big growth, uh, initiative and like we just aren’t hitting it. And so the how do we do that is usually missing in the strategic plan.

[00:03:59.54] spk_1:
Okay, so all right. So if it’s addressed, it’s addressed little superficially. We’re not, we’re not we’re not getting to the root cause it’s kind of glossed over, we’ll increase our fundraising. Well, maybe maybe they identify a couple of initiatives, but you’re saying right, they’re not getting to the root problem. And so they’ve got this wonderful plan and a lot of excitement around it for the next 3-5 years but they’re not hitting their revenue targets, that they need to realize the true excitement of the, of the, of the outcomes.

[00:05:43.14] spk_0:
Absolutely. And so it’s a lot of, you know, more and more corporate sponsorships, more grants, more events, more appeals. Some of those are good things like don’t hear me say they aren’t, but we have to remember also, typically the board or leadership whose having a great amount of input in the strategic plan. They’re usually expert to something else. You know, they aren’t strategic fundraisers. Um, so, so they’re doing their absolute best. So sometimes we have to get the voice of outsiders. I know you would agree with me to come in and say, actually that’s not how that problem gets fixed. And so I so it’s a this is really, you know, the strategic plan, which is what we’re talking about today is is one part of it. And the kind of the cousin comment I would say coming to me and it’s really ties to this is um, you know, we have this budget, we want to grow the budget, but we’re always in the red were never raising enough. And so there’s this disconnect that, you know, frankly, I study and watched so closely in my practice and I’ve just really been able to see quickly, you know, what is the sticking point? Why is your funding platt Toad? Why is it another year in the red? And so we’re going to talk about these, these symptoms versus root cause because, uh, you know, my strongest clients these last few years have been the ones who said We’re kind of not going back to doing what we were doing pre 2020. We’re actually going to push ahead and, and, and do things differently. Run our businesses differently, solve the problem at the root so that we actually can have greater impact, which, gosh, I’m so thankful they’re doing that because there’s never been a time we’ve needed them more.

[00:06:20.94] spk_1:
Yeah, it’s always right. It’s always, it’s always the truth. I mean, it’s always the case. You know, always the case, especially with the pandemic, but beyond the pandemic, nonprofits take on causes and missions and goals that, that individuals can’t do that. Government isn’t suited for that. The corporate sector isn’t going to take on. In fact, a lot of times the corporate sector is antithetical to the, to the goals. Um, but non profits, you know, our, our, that sector is ideally suited for work of all different types and, and raising money to do it, but they’re not raising sufficient money. Um, so essentially, you know, you’re saying, you know, you can’t keep doing the same things and expect different outcomes.

[00:06:37.16] spk_0:
Yeah, I guess that’s

[00:06:40.04] spk_1:
it. I can get real problems.

[00:08:22.14] spk_0:
Yeah, I think that’s a great way to phrase that it’s, you know, in some of these symptoms of, of perhaps we’ve been kind of trying to do the same thing or, or trying to do more unless, right. Um, you know, a lot of these symptoms are our cash flows too tight because maybe our strategy is, yeah, we need more money, but it’s too restricted. Or maybe then if we’re not bringing in enough restrictive cash, were unable to grow the reserve, were unable to grand grow our endowment. Um, you know, the other thing we’re gonna talk a little bit about today is that never being able to justify overhead spend, Right? Like if I hear that, it’s like, I know fundraising situation that we need to fix so I want here, here’s what I’ll tell you. I asked on a weapon or I think it was last mid last week, I started with a question and frankly it probably sounded like a bit of a silly question on the webinar and what I asked was, do you need more money, does your nonprofit need more money now? I knew the answer to that, right? But typically it’s like, yeah, we need more money. That’s what our strategic plan says, but rarely does an organization just need more money. They need flexible money. They need unrestricted money to accomplish the things the initiatives that growth in their strategic plan. You’ve got to have money for overhead. And I find that that’s why a lot of times we can never fund the strategic plan is stated because we aren’t fundraising for unrestricted cash from a single source says you’re makers, meaning I can pick up the phone and talk to chris he crested sherry from, you know, and and those gifts are not from people who truly understand the need and actually want to give to every year. And that’s a very specific types of type of fundraising. We’ll unpack that today. But, but so often I’m finding that we’re not doing the fundraising things that are actually attracting those donors.

[00:09:02.04] spk_1:
All right. So let’s get to some of these root root problems. What, what, what, what can we talk about? What you just mentioned? We’re not attracting the right donors. You know, you’re concerned about attracting the right people. Talking to them about the right things about the true needs for overhead for endowment for growth. I should ask you where do you want to start with these root causes?

[00:10:15.84] spk_0:
Let’s start here. I’m going to address that once. Third, because here’s the thing. We always start with the fundraising issues, right? But that’s that’s actually like step three or four over here. So the biggest thing I want to talk about one of the most fun things, I guess I should say that I love talking about is this concept and frankly tony I wish I coined the phrase, but I didn’t, but it’s irrational frugality. I love that phrase, you know, I suffer from it rational frugality. And, and what I mean by that is, um, we have to start being comfortable if we’re gonna solve frankly some of the world’s and nations and states and communities most pressing issues we have to really ask ourselves, are we making $1,000 decisions and expecting giant results? Or are we making $10,000 decisions? $100,000 decisions? And so it costs money to raise money. We need to be spending more on overhead so that we can put more gasoline in the engine to raise more money for programs. And so often I see the handcuffs on organizations when we’re trying to make these big growth initiatives, but we haven’t taken the time to actually look at what does the spend need to be for us to actually reach those initiatives.

[00:10:29.84] spk_1:
Well, let’s let’s let’s let’s dispel the myth that overhead is bad because you’re talking about overhead, like investing in people you want to do more. Absolutely want to do more fundraising. You might very well need more fundraisers. Absolutely. That’s salary and benefits and other forms of compensation. So let’s get rid of this concern that overhead is bad,

[00:12:16.74] spk_0:
right? And so I hear you, you know, I kind of sometimes make these statements like, I’m not talking about scarcity anymore. We’re beyond that, you know, are sectors beyond that. But I gotta tell you it’s, it’s kind of playing out. I think in a different version or a greater version and this is what, you know, all size organizations. Uh, I think we’re seeing part of that in this great resignation. I know we could have a whole whole discussion today about that. But um, the, if you saw my actually, if you saw my screen right now on my computer, you know, it’s a, it’s a, it’s an ORC chart looking five years out and it’s saying what is the spend we have to make, you know, parole to actually be raising the money. That’s in your strategic plan. What is the true math? And so it’s so often you’re so right comes in the, in the package of I’m expecting my one development director to be all, all of revenue, all of marketing, all of communications. Oh, and because you also do, you know, social media and so so often, I mean, I’m gonna be really frank here. So often the reason our strategic plans are not being funded or not, we’re not able to fund them is because that person is wearing, you know, the hats of four staff people. And so I know it feels like an investment. I know that spend feels scary, but when you run the numbers and then you have the right person on the bus. You make so much more money if you have to be comfortable with spending and investing in your organization to actually make those leaps and bounds that you want to.

[00:12:25.24] spk_1:
Alright, right person on the bus. You’re talking about the ceo are you talking about donors?

[00:13:44.04] spk_0:
Uh, in that context, I was talking about staff members, I was talking about, um, you know, oftentimes what we find and this is also why I love, you know, the sector that we work in. Maybe it’s a program person who, you know, was really great with the foundations when they were coming in. So now they found themselves over on the fundraising side and they’re awesome. It foundation grant request proposals, reporting maybe they’re good at planning an event, you know, good at telling the story of those that are impacted. But oftentimes they don’t have matric gift experience. They don’t know how to sit across the table with an investment level donor and lead them to an ASC secure their best gift. And so it’s the spend on the staff tony But I’d also say this great resignation, you know, buzz, we’re all talking about is also that, um, it’s the skills to equip the staff to do the things that actually attract the overhead monies that attract the flexible funding that attract unrestricted gifts that allow you to put gas in the engine. So there’s a disconnect on the skill set so often of who’s on the bus and, the types of fundraising an organization needs to be doing.

[00:15:29.04] spk_1:
All right. So, you know, we need to be honest with ourselves. Our boards are donors about what, what are true need is fund this ambitious strategic plan. And we’re deceiving ourselves if we’re thinking that the person that’s doing the, the marketing communications can now take on fundraising when we have, when we have an increased revenue plan because of the strategic plan. It’s just not, it’s not fair to the person. It’s not fair to the organization. It’s not fair to the cause that you’re, that you’re working toward your just not being honest with any of those things or any of those, any of those entities, people or, or the, or the cause itself, it’s time for a break. Turned to communications content creation. Do you need something written for you? Have you been thinking about a project that is gonna take hours? You just haven’t gotten to it. But it’s going to be valuable when it gets done. Turn to can help you. Like, I’m thinking white papers, research, case studies, They can write that stuff for you. They can learn about what it is you want to say, get to understand your work, your mission, even your values and incorporate that into the piece or the series that they do for you. So if you’ve got this big backburner project has been on your to do list and it involves writing turn to, can help you turn to communications because your story is their mission turn hyphen two dot c o

[00:16:01.54] spk_0:
the second underlying root cause which you’ve so so nicely led me right into um, frankly would be this budget element, right? Like, uh, like you said, we have to be honest with ourselves of what the true need is and and not, well, let’s, let’s just budget and squeak by neck If we make more money, it’s gonna be great. But we actually need to have a plan of how would you fully finance your organization?

[00:16:02.67] spk_1:
Right. What does full financing look

[00:16:04.27] spk_0:
like? What it actually

[00:16:27.64] spk_1:
doesn’t look like? You know, a five or 8% increase in fundraising from, from the previous year that you could reasonably expect that one person to get. You know, it probably looks like something much much larger than that, which that one person just isn’t capable of doing so take off the shackles. Stop being, stop deceiving yourself and all those other entities that I named and the cause itself and and right. All

[00:16:32.03] spk_0:
right. Look, I love that you’re up on on my soapbox with you Tony to the funding. Well, because

[00:16:37.81] spk_1:
it’s deception. You know, you’re you’re you’re lying to yourself and and everybody else was important around you and to the cause that you’re that you’re working time self

[00:18:53.14] spk_0:
can I say something about this budgeting thing. I can’t because I love talking budgeting, which always surprises people when it’s like wait, I thought she was the fundraising person Like I am, but we gotta, that’s over here until you’re honest with yourself and you’ve actually created a true need space budget Not this week by right where you can sit down with someone and say, can I share with you? What are $3.6 million dollars need? Looks like this year. Honestly, even though maybe the board approved is a 3.4, but you know, you need a little bit more in reserve and you know, cash flow is tight. And you know, you know, you, you have some growth initiatives coming down the pipeline until you can honestly sit and say and explain to them. I’m talking top of the pyramid, right? The top, top level donors until you can explain to them what the true need is then and only then can your team, your fundraising team actually put a plan in place to hit that 3.6 in my, in my example. So so often people come to me, I mean I’d say more than not with their budgets. I always ask for the profit loss statement and it will say, well, yeah, we have a $5 million need In the income on that same budget will say 4.2. I don’t, I don’t know how we’re going to do it. Right. So you we have to have the plan to fully finance to fully balance The expense and the revenue. And I find that we spend 90% of our time and I’m going to talk on board a little bit here too. We’re spending 90% of our time approving the expenses and nit picking all the stamps and that we couldn’t ever do that. You know, our percentages scary, scary, scary. We’re not spending enough time on literally understanding what we need to be doing month by month. That actually reaches that number and then all of us leadership staff board aligning every hour. We do spend fundraising on those activities that gets you off the spin cycle that gets you onto the things that you need to start doing. So you can start securing more unrestricted cash and invest as flexibly as you need to into your strategic plan.

[00:19:06.44] spk_1:
Investment level. Yeah.

[00:19:08.32] spk_0:
Investment level.

[00:19:19.54] spk_1:
Let’s talk about another root issue, which is you, you, you just started to scratch at it not having investment level conversations with donors. Yeah, let’s let’s let’s let’s let’s just shout out what is one of those conversations look like? Who are we talking to?

[00:22:59.44] spk_0:
Sure, sure. So, you know, this is all about, I suppose the easiest way to say this is, this is about donor segmentation, right? And, and we’re busy. You know, we just said, we’re wearing, you know, 62 hats when we shouldn’t be. But so often I find that we are still approaching donors as a one size fits all. You know, the, my, my methodology, you’ve heard me say this many times tony when you had me on a number of different opportunities to to chat with you, I want everybody giving their best gift to the organization and I want them giving that gift every year. And so if $25 is that person’s best gift, that is remarkable and amazing and I want to serve them as such. But if someone’s giving you $25 and you see their name, you know, on an annual report or you’ve done some sleuth Google searching, it’s like, Oh my gosh, they’re giving $25,000 down the road. Well, we have some work to do. And so, so much of my work is helping teams understand what that investment level conversation looks like. And so I find so many people avoiding it because they’re so worried are we going to do it wrong? Um, you know, I don’t want to be that pushy salesperson, right? I don’t want to be begging or B B that used car salesman. But here’s the thing, you have to be able to sit down and share your plans, your strategic plan. You have to be able to share how you’re going to achieve those initiatives. And most of all you have to be able to articulate the financial need the organization has and way too often the development staff, maybe they don’t have access to it. Or perhaps they don’t understand it. They are not privy to All the numbers, we just walked through. And so I want my fundraisers if somebody has the ability to write 25 500K. I want them sitting down. Of course we’re telling stories. Of course we’re doing all the traditional, you know, helping them understand the crisis, all those things. But the one thing that major donors are dying to hear is about that, what I asked earlier, do you need the money? So I want you sitting down saying, can I share with you our our $3.6 million dollars need this year. Can you share with you? How we’re growing? But I share with you how we’re funded. Uh you know, I can share with you what your gift has done in the last few years and to sit at that table and know the answers to the financial questions that we really, really, really hope that they don’t ask in that meeting. What am I asking? Because those questions are actually indicators of what’s going to keep them from giving their best gift to your mission. And so when I see investment level conversation, I want one on one. You know, that looks like a lot like zoom still these days. Right? I want exclusive information. I want stakeholder language because why? These are people who have also probably business owners and entrepreneurs in the community. These are people who have also had to sit down and ask for investments. They had to sit down and answer the tough questions. So sit down and have that businessperson to businessperson conversation with them so that they really understand what a gift to your mission can do. And so often we default to, well let’s just send them the appeal. Let’s have the event. And I gotta tell you they’re not giving their best gift in those reaction, all types of ways.

[00:23:02.64] spk_1:
Let’s talk a little about a little bit of a tangent or something you just

[00:23:05.68] spk_0:
mentioned. Love a tangent.

[00:23:15.74] spk_1:
Uh, peer to peer soliciting. So maybe this doesn’t, this may not. This is a tangent from the root issues. We’ll get back to the root issues, but you want fundraisers to be talking to the, to their donors as peers say, say, say more about what we shouldn’t be doing and what we

[00:25:14.94] spk_0:
should. Yeah. This, this concept was taught to me by, by my coach and she, she had heard it from a Deborah Tannin who’s a researcher. And so it’s really this concept of um, knowing that the best version of yourself showing up in that donor meeting, it’s just you, you know what I mean by that is not some version of you who thinks they need to show up slick and I’m the fundraising sherry, not that person. It’s just, it’s just you. So when I say peer to peer mindset, I’m doing this on, on equal playing grounds here. Um, it’s really staying in that like, you know, tony Like when we have a conversation like, hey Tony, how’s it going? How’s your weekend really staying in that zone? Um, of course you’re being professional about it, but not turning into the, like I’ve got to get through all my stuff and I’ve got to get them to understand why they should give us the money. And you know, kind of, it almost turns into that, that pushy feeling, right? And that comes out of our mouth. The flip side of that is that, oh gosh, I don’t want to, I don’t know. I think it’s been too soon. I don’t want to appear like I’m begging. And so then our tone turns to, well, I don’t know if you could do it or I don’t know if you would do it. But I wondered if none of those tones that you heard give that donor confidence, you know exactly what you’re gonna do with that gift. And you can’t wait to come back and tell them how their gift has impacted lives and you are offering an amazing opportunity to them today. And so when we stay in this more neutral zone, uh, and I try to do with my own business too, right? Um, that’s when we build the best relationships and that’s when we have trusted relationships and we actually deeply know our donors, We haven’t forced it. That’s when you’re going to secure the best gifts for your organization’s because there’s a deep, deep relationship that’s been built. But too often tony we get in the way of that in our mindset and our, you know, all these, all these crazy things that come to play and in sales and fundraising often get get in the way. So there’s tons of mindset work.

[00:26:05.04] spk_1:
Alright, good. Thank you for that. I wanted I want to focus to understand what you’re thinking is there because there is there’s too much humility and uh huh um, confidence. So all right, let’s go. All right. So let’s go back to our, our root issues. So like we talked about, you know, being honest in investment level, growth planning, being invested. Being honest about what that looks like having these investment level conversations with your, your major donors. What’s another root issue to our failure to be able to fund our strategic

[00:27:03.84] spk_0:
plan, Good time. Right onto that. So then it’s that financing plan and I’ve alluded to this. But what I really mean by that is is everybody on the team aligning their hours with dollars. Right? And so I don’t, I don’t want to miss that because that is a huge part of what I do, helping organizations see what they need to stop doing So they can start doing more strategic fundraising. So in that, what do I mean by that? Well, um, in my, in my world, uh, I want your top 30 donors yielding between 50 and 75% of your overall revenue. And I want those gifts to be unrestricted, that’s where we’re pointing the compass compass. And so our time and our budget must be aligned with that on there, on the expense side, on the revenue side. Okay. And so therefore when,

[00:27:12.74] spk_1:
but I love even when you define what our goal is. Okay, so top 30 donors Funding 50-70% of annual revenue on an unrestricted basis,

[00:27:18.10] spk_0:
50-75%. And I,

[00:27:20.35] spk_1:
Oh yeah, you’re good, you’re good 70%. So now we’ve got something to focus on. So now you’re gonna help us align our time with that goal,

[00:27:52.94] spk_0:
right? And that number feels really scary for some people. You know, it’s like, wait, we don’t we don’t have those people, we don’t have major donors. But it’s equally, it’s equally a math equation as opposed to a random mindset I should say because then we say, well we need to be then spending our time on attracting those donors tony A lot of people come to me and say, how do I find major donors? How do I find people who would, who would give us larger

[00:27:59.73] spk_1:
gifts?

[00:30:26.14] spk_0:
I’m of the school of Are you doing the things that attract them? Are you having strategic level conversations with others who are among those donors? And saying this is what I’m looking for. We’re looking for people who are interested in this who have a passion for this and really are wanting to invest to changing X, Y and Z. Are you attracting donors? This shift from like finding to attract as it has been a game changer for a lot of my clients who, um, you know, there’s a lot of times that donors don’t understand you need the money. This is crazy because you’re like, well, we’re nonprofit. Who doesn’t understand we don’t need the money. But so often how we’re talking keeps donors from understanding we need the money. Right? And it might be, um, you know, it might be, oh gosh, I saw you. Uh, you know, wow, I’m on the Today Show or I saw that you got this giant, uh, you know, gift, I saw the press release or, or, um, it looks like you’re killing it over there, right? Because because maybe they’re seeing the results of maybe a government contract or, um, you know, all sorts of different things, but that’s why we have to be sitting and presenting the true need, um, and kind of making up that difference. But what I bring up the pyramid in the top 30 concept because so often when we, when we say, okay, Well this is our year strategic plans in place. We’re ready to grow. We default to a lot of the activities there in the bottom part of that pyramid, that bottom 25 percent. And again, I’ve been accused of saying like, you don’t like events and appeals and grant proposals. That’s not the truth. I love those things. But I don’t want them taking 100% of your team’s time? And I also don’t want them taking the board’s time. If your board member, if anyone is hearing this and has written a thing down, this is your thing to write down your, if your board member can give you one hour a month outside of the meetings on something, fashion it better be activities that are attracting the donors and the top part of the pyramid versus the bottom part. Right? Because we’ve got one hour of their time that’s extremely valuable information or it’s an asset to the organization. So we have to make sure we’re doing the things, um, that are leading our investment level donors to a deep understanding of our need. Then we got to ask him for the money. Sit and ask him for the money.

[00:31:13.84] spk_1:
I like this distinction finding versus attracting donors because finding sounds like you’re gonna walk up, you’re gonna stumble on them. Like I might find a beautiful shell on the, on the beach. I’ll find one. Uh, but, but what, what are you doing to attract these folks so that you don’t just stumble on them a couple of year, but you’re, you’re bringing them to the, to the organization. What more a little more about what the board can be doing in finding versus attracting or having these investment level conversations. Maybe some of the board members are the folks you’re having the conversations with aside from, aside from The board members who might be among your top 30 donors? What more can the board be doing to help with finding versus attracting and having these conversations with the right folks

[00:34:08.04] spk_0:
tony I kind of dialed up this conversation of, of roots and symptoms when I was preparing for a board training actually because who better on the team can have an influence on the organization’s comfort level with investing with spending with, with budgeting, uh, with fiduciary responsibility, who better than the board. Right? And so we have to, we have to make sure that they understand what the path is to the money and what the spend is to the money. And so so often I say, you know, I’ll ask the client or if we start working together, I’ll say, what’s the board’s involvement in budgeting as well. They, you kind of get it and approve it. And you know, I, I do reports every month, but that really means they’re looking at the expense and they actually don’t know how they will fully finance the organization, you know, hit a balanced budget or plus plus your reserve. You know, I always want to be cushioned with the reserve. They don’t know how we would fully finance organization and be, do not know what the team should be doing. And if they don’t know if the team should be doing, They don’t know what they should be doing. And so I want the board to deeply deeply understand that you just don’t need more money, but you need flexible money and then what are the things the board members should be doing that actually attracts those donors. And so often, I mean, you know, as you can imagine every, every board training I head into, it’s like don’t make me ask for money. So don’t make me, don’t make me sit and ask for money. I gotta tell you, I rarely have board members asked for money rarely for me. Board members. It’s introducing its networking. It’s educating, it’s connecting. It’s being open to saying, hey, I have been serving on the board of this amazing organization. They’re doing these, you know, before school literacy programs in our community. Are you ever interested in hearing about that? I mean, I’ve been astounded what that looks like. The bds. A rockstar. Could, could we set up a 15 minute coffee one of these mornings? You see, I stayed peer to peer right there. Do you see how it was? It’s not a script. Um, I would rather have all my board members doing that and then letting the equipped team lead that donor and serve that donor create a great donor experience for them. You know, of course the board member is going to be popping in maybe in thanking or popping in when, um, you know, there’s an opportunity to, to really cultivate, but, but we have to make sure that the board members are not spending all of our time on transactional fundraising events, appeals send me the name. Can you post this on facebook? I don’t want my board touching facebook like they can if they want, but I want them doing strategic activities that align their hours with dollars.

[00:37:07.93] spk_1:
It’s time for Tony’s take two holiday time off. Colin Powell died on October 18 and I saw on twitter someone I follow Glenn Kirshner, I was telling a story about what Colin Powell said to his employees at the state department when he was newly inaugurated because Glenn Kirshner used to repeat this to his team. So the story is that general Powell said If I come to your office at 6:30 PM and you are not at your desk I will consider you to be a wise person. Indeed. So thank you Glenn Kirshner, what’s Colin Powell saying he’s talking about work life balance. He doesn’t want folks in the office late all the more so holidays are coming up, take time, take time. I’m sure you’re gonna be with with folks right? But take time for yourself. Also take that holiday time to be with others and for yourself. Please don’t, don’t feel like I got to work that friday after. Thanksgiving how much is not going to get done if I don’t, if I don’t work that day, nobody’s gonna know two weeks later, it’s not going to matter. So please take take adequate time off. We’ve been under a lot of stress challenges For the past 18, 20 months, take time, please take time and, and nonprofit radio I’m going to do my part. No podcasts. You know, I don’t do shows between christmas and New Year’s. So plenty of time for holiday time off. Don’t even listen to podcasts. If they’re related to work at least you won’t have to listen to nonprofit radio I’m doing that much. I feel like I’m walking the walk however you do it. Please do it. Take sufficient time off around these holidays. That is Tony’s take two. We’ve got boo koo, but loads more time for strategic plan done now pay for it. When you say this, this alignment, does that mean? So if if we want 50-75% of our revenue to come from those top 30 donors, does that mean we should be spending 50 to 75% of the ceo Time on cultivating and soliciting these top 30 donors. Is that, is that the alignment you’re talking

[00:38:22.42] spk_0:
about? Somebody has to Tony. And I find that because the grant application, the event, the holiday appeal, those all have deadlines. We got to get the newsletter at the first month. Those all have deadlines. So I find that those way more than not take precedence over. You know, I really should be making, you know, doing some moves, management management on my top 30, top 50, top 100 donors. So if you’re not staffed accordingly, that time always gets pushed down. Right? Well, I’ll get to that tomorrow. I’ll get to it. And so it’s, it’s a discipline. I, you know, I always say if I, if I sold t shirts that say fundraising is discipline, it’s who is waking up in the morning and saying, what, what donors am I touching today? How am I serving them? Not in a slimy way. How are we getting? How we, how we educating them? How are we connecting them to the heart of our mission? How am I answering their questions for your men and major level donors? That is not accomplished through newsletter blasts through appeals through an annual report. They get in the mail through events.

[00:38:26.02] spk_1:
Yeah, it’s the one on 1.

[00:38:27.22] spk_0:
It’s the one on one. Yeah. And we’re avoiding that.

[00:39:06.62] spk_1:
I see that. I see that short shrift so often in planned giving because all those things you mentioned have they either have deadlines. If, if it’s, if it’s anything related to grants, uh, not only in terms of applying, but then reporting back when grants are successfully received and then, but, but everything else has a shorter, a shorter time span. You know, we gotta get the annual gifts in the fourth quarter. All right. So that we got, we got to get these, the major giving has to be, we gotta get these major gift conversations done. Everything is a is a quicker, a quicker, more, more imminent, more urgent need or deadline than planned giving you always get short

[00:39:14.59] spk_0:
shrift here. That to

[00:39:46.32] spk_1:
analogous to what you’re saying about having these donors, the strategic donor conversations. It’s easy to put them off because they’re not deadline oriented. Oh, I got, I got, you know, if you, if you want to be, if you wanna be a little cynical about it, I’ve got the excuse of this grant, this, this grant report to do by thursday. Well, alright, today’s monday. There’s my next four days putting that report together and then next, next Tuesday I’ve got, uh, an event. So we got to do the last minute planning for that Tuesday event, you know, and it’s that constant, you call it the spin cycle. I’m using your own,

[00:39:48.82] spk_0:
you can use it, take it

[00:40:05.91] spk_1:
around that constant spin cycle. It was like, uh, deadline oriented activities and you’re not doing the strategic longer term. But that’s where you want 53 quarters of percent after three quarters of a percent of, uh, half to three quarters of your revenue to come from.

[00:42:31.20] spk_0:
Yeah. And that, that totally, and that’s the stuff that takes time. It takes way longer than I wanted to. I’m the first to admit that. But when we’re looking out and going, why don’t I ever have the money? Well, we did it, we did another three year strategic plan. We’ll see if we have the money for this one too, that you have to make that fundamental shift in your model and your, in your mindset and your approach to revenue generation. Um this, I will tell you when I was on your radio show, Gosh, time is so weird right now. I couldn’t even tell you when it was last time. Um, but uh, you know, he wasn’t a client at the time, but when my, my, you know, one of my favorite clients, Jonathan heard me on your show and contacted me and, and I remember him saying, you know, I really am concerned our donors are not giving their best gifts. Like I said that on your show and what it really came down to was, you know, he had a great team who was great at what we talked about. Like these transactional approach is that they were, you know, most of their giving was coming from events from appeals from corporate sponsorships, from event from grant proposals, but their individual giving was really stagnant and you know, we all know that’s where the unrestricted investment level gifts are going to come from. And so could he have, you know, ramped up the events and appeals I suppose he could have, but he didn’t, he fixed the underlying root cause he’s fixed the financing, he’s aligned his whole team to the money. They are their high performing revenue generators And they’ve grown by seven figures here in the last 18 months because they shifted, you know, I talked about that single source decision maker. They shifted individuals from the, we’re having an event to actually segmenting and figuring out who do we need to sit with? Who doesn’t understand how we’re funded, Who doesn’t understand our need family foundations. Um, corporate sponsors, Oh my gosh. Uh, you know, his corporate sponsors who used to come and be $50,000 gala sponsors. He shifted those into $100,000, unrestricted gifts because he started having investment level conversations with them. He took the transaction out of it. He had the financing plan. He could, he could very clearly articulate the organization’s plan to spend money to make more money. So he’s become, yeah,

[00:42:39.20] spk_1:
we’ll see what he’s become and then,

[00:42:52.80] spk_0:
yeah, he’s become a master at these investment level conversations and you know what donors say, wow, nobody else ever talks like this to me. Thank you. I never, I never understand this.

[00:43:59.80] spk_1:
You give a terrific example of converting something transactional, a $50,000 corporate sponsorship to, uh, to a gala or something into a gift twice that that becomes unrestricted. We don’t have to put it toward the audiovisual budget at the gala. Now it’s unrestricted and it’s, and it’s double because he’s having different kinds of, he’s not having a transactional conversation with the ceo of that company anymore. Having an investment level conversation. How do we overcome the fear of having these honest conversations. It’s a lot easier to say our annual gala is coming up? You did $50,000 last year because you know, even I’ll even make it a little more ambitious. Could you do $65,000 this year? That’s a lot easier conversation to have than here’s what our plan is. Here’s what our need is over the next three years. How do you see yourself fitting in or maybe even more strategic? You know, I see you fitting in here. How do you overcome the fear of having these more, more down to earth, more honest investment level conversations that the transactional that everybody is very comfortable with?

[00:46:02.18] spk_0:
I hear you, I think it’s kind of a simple answer though. You gotta know your numbers because we’re going to think you’re going to be fearful of that conversation if you don’t know what you’re selling. Okay, right? Like you’ve got to know, you know, this is why my hands are in spreadsheets all day long and looking at what that looks like. You got to be able to sit down and tell a donor what their investment is going to do over the next few years. You’ve got to move into knowing your numbers in a greater way what that impact makes. And again, I’m not saying don’t share stories and the crisis and the problem in your model. I’m not saying don’t show that, but too often I’m seeing people avoid that and yes, I agree with you, Tony. It’s a lot easier even if I was a board member, it’s like, oh, when’s the event coming back? Because like that’s way easier for me to fill a table. I’m gonna be a little friend care. You’re letting your board off the hook. Their job is a balanced budget and helping you co pilot that to a balanced budget. And so we have to just be starting at the top of the pyramid. Starting in the mindset of, it looks different to attract those donors. And so we must be giving different presentations I guess. I’ll say we must be having different conversations. And so whatever they value, it’s very different from your $25 a month. You know, with that donor values. So you need to be serving what they value. And so that means you need to be able to fundraiser ceo board member, Sit down with them and answer the tough questions. Answing Why your program%ages, 90%. And so why you’ve invested, you know, 20% and fundraising in the last three years. Why did you do it? And so why your revenue maybe went down for a year, answer the tough questions. Be honest, be transparent. They will value you and that they will be attracted to that because I’m telling you nobody else does it.

[00:46:28.68] spk_1:
You mentioned a couple of times the benefit of having a a strategic fund or an endowment. Um, let’s let’s just shut out. I mean I, you know, I, you know how I feel about it because I do plan to giving fundraising. But let’s let’s flush out the value of that long term sort of investment fund that lets you take some risks from time to time.

[00:46:51.48] spk_0:
Yeah. So I think we’re probably talking about two things, but I think we can we can weave them together. You know, when I say reserve off the cuff, I really mean, um, you know, unrestricted cash in the bank that you have full access to,

[00:46:55.68] spk_1:
you know, operating

[00:47:18.38] spk_0:
Reserve, totally. And so I can’t, you know, I have multiple $10 million dollar organizations come to me who struggled doing payroll because there’s not enough unrestricted cash and reserve. And so I want to make sure that we are, we know it, that needs to be too. And and if you have that much, if you have, you know, a year’s worth of money in the bank, sit and tell the donor why you do own it, don’t be afraid. You know, that sort of thing, you know,

[00:47:22.42] spk_1:
be ashamed

[00:47:23.29] spk_0:
of. That’s something right.

[00:47:25.09] spk_1:
Because when the next pandemic comes, or the next economic crisis comes, or the next bad year in fundraising comes or the next whatever comes. You know, we’re prepared. And and mr mr or MS donor, you probably do the exact same thing for your business

[00:47:38.98] spk_0:
totally. You

[00:47:39.18] spk_1:
don’t have trouble making payroll for your business each week. Do

[00:47:41.80] spk_0:
you have to have just have that conversation

[00:47:44.57] spk_1:
problem here either.

[00:49:48.57] spk_0:
Yeah, totally. So, so that’s that’s part of that. Half the businessperson to businessperson conversation, you know, and if you’re afraid, if you go into that meeting and you’re afraid they’re going to bring that up, well then you bring it up, put that elephant out on the table because because I’m always listening for what, what questions are in their mind is going to keep them from giving their best gift, you know. Now on the, on the plan giving sight tony you know, you’re my go to expert on this. But you know, I reach out when I have questions and everything. Um, but what a wonderful opportunity for you to present or to offer your longtime donors your, you know, talk to your donors to be able to be making a lifelong legacy in the community, in the state, in the, you know, what, wherever people are serving. And so you’ve taught me this, you’ve taught me that when people have given gifts by will or when they have committed to that, um, that their affinity to the organization is strengthened when they see themselves as a greater stakeholder and partner with you and actually their annual fund giving increases. And so what a wonderful opportunity to show somebody that their impact can have even greater results on the mission through your organization than a plan giving scenario. And so I totally agree with you. I told you recently, you know, I’ve never had more people ask me about planned giving, which is really interesting. That’s not my expertise. That’s yours. But I think people are thinking you no longer term. But I’m also seeing the desire to be in deeper relationship with our donors. And it’s not an uncomfortable conversation when we do know our donors so intimately. And we’re in that period of a relationship where it’s very easy to bring up that topic. And so I just see all the annual fund, You’re, you’re kind of your general ops reserve and your plan giving all of those working together in such strength. Um, but you’ve got to lead the donor to the understanding on all three of those

[00:49:57.57] spk_1:
and having those investment level conversations with, Right? Uh, including with your plan giving potential donors. Right? So I didn’t mean for you to repeat back stuff that you and I have talked about.

[00:50:09.59] spk_0:
You know, I love it. But

[00:50:16.36] spk_1:
what I want you to, uh, I want to make explicit that planned giving is a part of the types of investment level conversations you want folks to have

[00:50:44.66] spk_0:
absolutely their daughters. Absolutely. I would just say like if you’re wondering like, should I be sharing that with donors? I mean, I’m not saying open up the back back into the kitchen and sort of the grease pants, but usually the answer is yes, right? Like everything is on your 9 90. Like at a minimum, you should be able to articulate the route Elements of that in a donor facing away, not, not, not by just emailing the 990, but you know, at, at a minimum, that should be those. That should be the conversations that we’re having.

[00:51:24.96] spk_1:
Yeah. Okay. Okay. All right. You wanna, I hope you will share a story, share a story of uh, I guess a client story that, you know, maybe Jonathan’s or someone else’s. But you know, they, you saw the symptoms, they weren’t addressing root problems. They had a strategic plan with terrific excitement and ambition. They didn’t have the money to fund it. And then with, with some coaching, they were able to realize what, what they, what they really needed.

[00:51:47.06] spk_0:
Yeah. Yeah. So I have a client who um have been working with them actually for for quite a few years and they’re on a great revenue trajectory. Um, but you know, it was kind of one of those things where they did continue to struggle to always get ahead. Um, you know, and the other kind of whammy, Uh, what would that be called double we I mean, I should say um, was that they had actually lost a large funder. Um they had lost somebody who was contributing almost 20% of their budget. And I actually actually was no fault of their own. It was kind of a weird silly deal. And it was actually an international funder.

[00:52:26.15] spk_1:
Just just let me let me make a parenthetical. That’s another reason to have that strategic or that reserve fund because donors may depart, large donors may, you may do something to upset them, they may die. They may find other interests. They, you know, so that’s yet another reason that can happen institutionally. It can also happen to individual donors. Another have that reserve fund. We talked about a few minutes

[00:55:46.44] spk_0:
ago, reserve Fund and you know, back to my little pyramid. I’ve been talking about, you know, in that top 30 you know, I don’t want those top 10 donors to be more than, you know, 25 40% of your revenue. So in their case, yikes right. That that was so, you know, yes, you can imagine for a couple of years that that stung and, and and it really came, you know, and so they came to me and we’re really struggling to make that up right in small gifts or in mid level gifts, major gifts. Uh, and I remember the lead fundraiser saying to me, um, you know, this is not like I didn’t go to school for this. I kind of, I know enough to be dangerous, but I, I kind of don’t know what, I don’t know. And so he really did feel, which a lot of people come to me feeling that we have great relationships. We have an amazing mission. Um we know our mission is worthy of being supported, but like, I think I’m leaving money on the table because I simply don’t know how to lead that donor to their best gift. And so like we’ve talked about today, you know, instead of saying, well, you know, let’s let’s make our golf outing this or let’s make our, let’s add the appeals, let’s, you know, do all the things that are important, but they’re not going to get, you know, for example, this organization on that stronger trajectory. And um, and really to the point where they are doing what they had outlined in their strategic plan. So long story short, that’s what we did. We put a realistic budget in place that they can articulate the true financial need. And it wasn’t, well, we’d love to, you know, make that money back because we still want to serve those Children in this case. Um, you know, it was like, here’s our plan to do it. Here’s how you fit into this plan. Um, and then we put their, their financing plan in place. What do they need to stop doing? What do they need to start to me? How would we truly balance back to that, that number we were hitting and how would we grow beyond that. Um, and then how do we actually start leading donors who maybe we’re giving, you know, a monthly gift or a one off gift or a, you know, very generously at a golf outing, but we knew those weren’t their best gifts. How do we start leading them through these conversations. And so the specific client I’m speaking to tray. He’s an amazing relational guy. He’s a great relationship builder. And so, but donors literally responded so immediately of, oh my gosh, we, we didn’t know you needed this. We had no idea this was the need of the organization. Um, and sure does he have solicitation tools now and you know, some prompts that really lead him through that conversation. Yeah, that’s part of it. Um, but he’s got multi six figure gifts as a result, organization is out of the red back in the black because now he doesn’t have to guess anymore. He actually knows the exact steps to fund the organization annually and then to lead those donors to give their best gift annually. So it’s a, it’s a, it’s a dual combo. Um, but I see people make the shift all the time, But it starts with investing in change and being open to it.

[00:55:56.44] spk_1:
That’s awesome. Sherry. We’re gonna leave it right there investing in change. Having these investment level conversations planning be ambitious. You know, don’t be, uh, I don’t want to wrap up. I want you to wrap up, but don’t be humble because

[00:56:02.20] spk_0:
I like, I like the ambitious that, that’s my, my motto. Let’s let’s do this.

[00:56:49.03] spk_1:
That’s where we’ll leave it right there. Thank you very much want Taylor Ceo of KWAme. Taylor LLC at Kwame Taylor dot com again, Sherry. Thanks so much for sharing. To appreciate it. My pleasure Next week. Bitcoin and the future of fundraising with the co authors of that book and Connolly and Jason shim if you missed any part of this week’s show, I beseech you find it at tony-martignetti dot com. We’re sponsored by turn to communications pr and content for nonprofits. Your story is their mission turn hyphen two dot c o. Our creative producer is Claire Meyerhoff

[00:57:06.33] spk_2:
shows, social media is by Susan Chavez. Marc Silverman is our web guy and this music is by scott Stein. Thank you for that. Affirmation scotty. You’re with me next week for nonprofit radio Big nonprofit ideas for the other 95

[00:57:22.43] spk_1:
1%. Go out and be great. Mm hmm. Yeah.