During the campaign preparation process with one of our clients, a staff member recently offered up, completely unsolicited, a “$1 million idea” that she had developed. This particular individual knew that we were in the process of clarifying the campaign priorities and took the initiative to present a new program she wanted to see developed at the organization. It was an impressive move on her part, and one that also reminded me how important it is for organizations to have a list of potential funding options at the ready.
In my previous role as a development director for a public foundation, we talked with the executive directors and development staff at our grantee organizations about having just such a wish list on hand. The challenge was to have compelling and viable options at the ready and be able to answer the question, “Do you know what you would do with $1 million (or $5m or $10m) if someone came to you with that kind of offer?
There are a couple of things I specifically love about this exercise.
- First, it is always a good idea to have a menu of funding opportunities on hand to offer your donors in the event they either have interests outside of your current funding priorities, or they are inclined to make an impact investment beyond the scope of your current ask.
- Additionally, going through the process of discovery and creating your “what if” menu is a great way to engage the people who care about and have a stake in your organization’s future and to get everyone thinking about impact.
Do you have such a list? Is it something you update regularly or share with your board members and key donors to get their feedback on?
In my experience, as long as the conversations are framed appropriately (so that everyone’s expectations are clear), discussing what ifs with your program staff, donors, current/past board members and other key folks in your organization is not only a smart planning strategy, it’s also a great way to engage people in thinking creatively about your future and focusing together on how you might have an even greater impact. I mean, who doesn’t like to dream big, right?
by: David Gee, Associate Vice President, HUB Philanthropic Solutions