Insights from the Inside: Think Beyond the Money
This post is part of a series providing a road map for real world operational management of non-profits and social enterprises. The author, Gene Miller, has held a variety of high-stakes leadership positions in diverse industries through crisis periods and great successes. This series shares her results-based approach, presenting practical guides for how to get things done. She can be reached at genemillerassociates.com.
“If you ask for money, you get advice.
If you ask for advice, you get money.”
This timeless advice remains as extraordinarily effective a fundraising principle as ever. Consider our recent experience building out an innovative “award winning” not for profit. The assignment was, take the concept of the founder – a brilliant and important philanthropist – and transform the vision into a cutting edge program model around which an organization was to be built.
Since we were forging into an entirely new market segment, our first step was to reach out to a myriad of stakeholders that touched some aspect of the work. This meant other not for profits, financial institutions, colleges, foundations, strategic funders and mission related corporations….. all for input. This translated to hundreds of emails, meetings and phone calls within a few short months in which conversations went like this…”Here is the novel approach we’d like to take and we’d greatly value your input given your expertise in…” Our goal was to ask broadly but listen deeply.
The individual and collective advice was extraordinary and over time, strategic patterns emerged. But what was truly astounding was the amount of funding that followed these conversations, some directly from the foundations with whom we had engaged in strategy conversations, while other monies arrived from a more circuitous route. Turns out the world really is a small place and many of these leaders held multiple roles outside of their day jobs, often involving money. Our seeking advice generated multi-year six figure grants and impactful financial partnerships.
Engage funders and influence centers in your work well in advance of asking for money.