When thinking about planning, most of us start that exploration from the perspective of where we are today.
Want to buy a new car? How much money do you make or have in the bank?
Interested in taking an extended vacation? How much time have you accumulated in your PTO at work?
But my guest today, Sherry Quam Taylor from Quam Taylor Consulting takes a different approach.
She asks the question, “Where do you want to be?” and budgets according to those goals rather than getting stuck in the present state of affairs.
Sherry is a veritable font of nonprofit strategy and planning wisdom. (Much of which can be applied to the for-profit world as well.) She helps nonprofits move from collecting donations in the low, seven-figure range to trending toward becoming 8-figure organizations.
Even if your nonprofit is nowhere near those milestones, our conversation on today’s show has plenty of fantastic mind-shift opportunities and information that can help you and your team thrive.
I hope you enjoy the show.
Quam Taylor Consulting
Donors are open to new ideas, walk confidently into scary situations. Go for it and commit to growth.
Listen to the podcast here:
SherryQuamTaylor: And fundraising is not quick fix. If we really want to move our organizations into like these huge, sustainable trajectories of growth and really scale by millions it takes time. There is no quick fix. This is deep rooted. I kind of call it like, you know, the, the things we can’t see under the iceberg and the waterline.
These are things that really have to shift in, in that takes time. And they’re, they’re they’re business aligned. And so to me, the most creative and amazing thing I’ve seen the last couple of years is it’s really leader saying w we don’t want to do it. Like we were doing this before COVID or 2020.
We really, we can’t do more unless we really want to be more. You know, kind of upfront and sharing with donors, what we need are you looking for ways to shorten your marketing, learning curve and help your organization survive? Welcome to relish this, the purpose marketing podcast, a show for purpose focused leaders who want to use marketing techniques to fuel their organization’s growth. If you’re a returning listener and you haven’t subscribed already, we love to have you also please consider leaving a review wherever you listen to podcasts.
Now here’s your host, author and marketing specialist. Stu Swineford.
StuSwineford: Hey, everybody, Stu here. My guest today is Sherry Quam Taylor. She’s the president of Quam Taylor consulting and coaching, and she helps nonprofits grow from a growth strategy and revenue coaching perspective. She takes people from make, you know, bringing in seven figures to bringing in multi-seven figures into their organizations.
And two of the things that we talked about one was this idea of coming at fundraising from a needs-based perspective. So starting with what you need and then budgeting for that need, even though you’re not quite there yet will help you position your fundraising in such a way that you meet those needs and you then have astronomical growth.
And the second piece is really understanding that most of your donors are probably never giving their best gift, unless you’re asking them to give their best gifts. So if you’re framing conversations in the idea of, oh, well you gave a thousand dollars last year, do you think you could give 2000 this year?
Maybe those people could give $20,000. So framing your conversations and reinvigorating that storytelling to really get to that best gift. So you stop leaving money on the table is what Sherry’s all about. This was a super fun conversation. She’s amazing. I hope you have as much fun with it as I did. Here we go.
StuSwineford: Sherry, how are you today? How are you doing? I am doing great. It’s a beautiful day up here in the mountains. And I’m excited to talk with you. You’re from the Chicago area. It sounds like it, maybe isn’t so beautiful there today.
SherryQuamTaylor: Well, you know, it’s Illinois. These are the months when I am in like saying to my husband, “Where are we retiring? Because it certainly isn’t here. Is it?”
StuSwineford: Well, it’s funny because my brother lives in the area, as I mentioned as we talked before the show. He has had similar conversations with his wife, I believe. So they are always on the lookout for where might they go.
SherryQuamTaylor: And the older I get the the crankier I am about winter I will fully admit. So so stay tuned to see where I move here in 10 years.
StuSwineford: Yeah, that’s awesome. I actually we, my wife and I went to a concert in Chicago, way back in the late nineties. And we flew in and they shut, he town down like four minutes after we landed and it snowed like two feet and it was, it was amazing. We stayed downtown and just got to walk around and everything was shut down, but it was, it was really, really cool. So it was a fun visit to Chicago for sure. So tell us a little bit about what you do. I know that your tagline is that you help nonprofit leaders go to seven figures in terms of their fundraising.
Tell us more about that. That sounds amazing.
SherryQuamTaylor: Yeah, it’s actually, it’s so much fun. So I have my own consultancy and in essence, Come alongside CEOs of nonprofits who typically are, are already raising millions, but they need more money and they need usually very specific kinds of money. And I guess I’ll just jump right into it.
They need more unrestricted money for overhead. They need more flexible funding or more flexible revenues, so they can really invest in and all the things that like, like infrastructure and growth. All the things that it really does take to next level. And so a lot of leaders come to me who maybe have you know, created an amazing strategic plan and really have dynamic growth initiatives on the horizon, but it feels a little.
Gosh, do, do we know how to get there? Does, does my team know how to get there? And so I always say, I love working with people who are already doing so many things, right. But they do want a coach and somebody objective to really come alongside them and, and show them how could they be securing larger unrestricted gifts from investment level donors.
StuSwineford: Right. So are they in the spine because they’ve been relying too much on grants or is it restricted donations or what’s the, what typically gets them in the, into this particular pickled few,
SherryQuamTaylor: a few different profiles. One of them who I was speaking to today you know, wonderful. They get so much funding, federal funding, government funding.
That’s been great. It’s never enough, you know, it never is enough to invest in staff or really hire, like they’d like to, or frankly serve the people that they’re serving in an integrated way. Sometimes it is heavy foundation funding where maybe it’s a program revenue or you know, heavy multi-year contracts, the foundations and then even, you know, pre 2020, and kind of, you know, feeling that in 20 20, 20, 20.
Maybe it was, we were way too dependent on one giant gala. And you know, we, we all know what happened there. And so I always say it’s, it was, they were too dependent on one thing or two dependent on two things. When when it just, it wasn’t as pressing, you know, a couple of years back. But they really are, you know, the, they have plans to grow and, and they, they really do need great flexibility to take advantage of really what’s out there for organizations.
StuSwineford: Right. So what types of of, of leaders do you work with typically, or it’s obviously in the executive directors zone probably or heads of, of revenue or whatever that title might be at your particular nonprofit? Are they usually very seasoned? I mean, you mentioned there they’re pulling in millions already in a lot of cases.
So I would say that that’s largely. Larger non-profits, you
SherryQuamTaylor: know, it, it, it it varies. And I would say that I’ll answer that of like my favorite client who comes to me is, is someone who actually has pivoted out of corporate. And I pivoted out a corporate role 15 years ago. And so it’s like, oh, we’ve, we’ve come into nonprofit.
We’re doing a lot of things. Right. We’re learning the ropes. But I kind of don’t know what, I don’t know, you know, there’s, there’s, it feels similar, but there’s some differences. You know, and then the other profile, which I, you know, I guess I should say, I love just as much as maybe somebody who was an absolute and utter program expert, you know, they are experts in their field.
These are the doctor of social workers, you know, leaders who maybe founded a nonprofit or a leading an organization. Yeah. And they’re great at their programs, but they just simply haven’t ever needed to know how to do major gift work or kind of relationship-based fundraising. And so the, the grant writing and the more transactional types of fundraising maybe just feels more comfortable because they’ve simply never been trained how to do that. Right. And
StuSwineford: so, yeah. That sounds great. What does the program look like? What, how, how do you transition people from their current current state of frustration to this, to this amazing, amazing aspirational
SherryQuamTaylor: future? I will tell you it’s due. Yeah. Well, so I usually always start working with with the CEO.
That’s usually who reaches out to me or executive director, you know, called different things. And, and I, and I, I will also, I always say I work with three groups, one being the executive director, and then I want to work with their team. I want to work with our development staff and then I want to work with their board.
It’s funny. I, I used to, you know, years ago say, well, if, if you want me to train your board, I’ll do that too. But I actually this past year has started requiring it because a, my clients were getting better results when I did. It could be, we need them to, you know, I always said one of the three of those entities, if you will really aren’t, aren’t doing what they’re supposed to be doing.
We’re going to lose money on the table. And so my work looks a lot like working with leadership up front to really see what are the areas, maybe not even fundraising areas, but what are the things we might be doing? They’re keeping healthy revenue generation from growing or keeping donors from getting their best gift.
It could be how we’re budgeting, you know, are we budgeting in well, we hope we can grow. And gosh, I’m afraid to put, you know, some of these growth initiatives and are we being too, too frugal in the way we’re budgeting, which is then not propelling the growth. So do a lot of behind the scenes type. Is our business.
We’re running aligned with how we’re generating revenue. And then I, then I usually kind of pivot that into okay, great. Now that we know really how we’re going to finance the growth and what it should look like, where we want the money coming from. Now how do we really equip the team to align their hours with dollars?
And so it looks a lot like coaching and a lot, like where are we doing really well and where, where do we need to improve? So I usually have a privilege view with organizations at least 12 months, simply because change takes that long. But I also feel like it really does take that long for entire teams to get in a new rhythm and, and really see and learn what maybe they need to stop doing so that they have time to start doing other more strategic fundraising initiative.
StuSwineford: Yeah, that sounds sounds super interesting. I think that that applies to a lot of for-profit businesses as well, where it’s people, people don’t take enough time to to, to let things cook. Right. You’ve put something in place and if you don’t get immediate results, you’re onto the under looking for that next thing.
And, and just making sure that you’re committed to, to that, that change and what that is actually gonna entail all of
SherryQuamTaylor: our businesses, I suppose, that we could say that, you know but it takes time and, you know, I would say just to that point that you’re bringing up, I I think like just over the last couple of years, No, I think a lot of the podcasts and webinars I’ve been on, I’ve been thankful to be on so many.
There’s always a question about what’s the most creative or out there kind of fundraising thing you’ve seen. And, and I, I, I don’t love the question because it really is. It’s kind of like, I guess I’ll say an anti my method, but, and what I mean by that fundraising is not quick fix. If we really want to move our organizations into like these huge, sustainable trajectories of growth and really scale by millions it takes time.
There is no quick fix. This is deep rooted. I kind of call it like, you know, the, the things we can’t see under the iceberg and the waterline. These are things that really have to shift in, in that takes time. And they’re, they’re they’re business aligned. And so to me, the most creative and amazing thing I’ve seen the last couple of years is it’s really leader saying yes, we, we don’t want to do it.
Like we were doing this before COVID or 2020. We really, we can’t do more unless we really want to be more you know, kind of upfront and sharing with donors, what we need. And gosh, our missions have never been so worthy of being supported so far. And so I’m just so proud of, you know, so many of my clients are people who have come to me saying we want to do it differently.
Heading forward. We want to lead with unrestricted gifts and we want to not be afraid of the percentage conversation and all the things that I think in the past too many of us were really kind of handcuffed.
StuSwineford: Yeah, it’s funny on the, on the, you know, the marketing front. A lot of times, the, the most boring thing is it’s the thing that’s going to produce the best results.
And everyone’s looking for that for that, you know, sexy, new thing. That’s out there. That’s going to. Turn the needle or move the, move, the needle. And you know, frankly, it’s well go back to the well and start making some phone calls. And, and I know that’s not necessarily marketing, but a lot of times that’s what brings in donors and, and and revenue. So that’s pretty
SherryQuamTaylor: funny. One person said to me recently I hope you don’t take this personally, but I, I feel like your approach is that is quite practical. You know, it’s quite straightforward. I thought, oh my gosh, I would never take offense to that effect. She was like the biggest compliment because it, it really is practical.
And I think sometimes we’re looking for the flashy or we’re looking for the, I don’t know that, you know, that there’s something sparkly and and sometimes really just one foot in front of the other and being consistent and steady. Eddie is, is the name of the game. And.
StuSwineford: Yeah, for sure. So what does that, what does that year long process look like for you? What does an engagement look like? Yeah,
SherryQuamTaylor: happy to answer that. You know, I would say that it’s at the, with the front half of it, the first half probably is, is pretty intensive. And I mean that in we’re really rolling up our sleeves and making sure that you can fund what’s in your strategic plan and you can move into a funding model.
That gives you the most flexibility and we’re starting to raise way more dollars. The types of dollars, I should say that that really are going to give you the ability to pivot in tough times or invest in times of growth. And so it looks a lot like strategy and planning and advisement and coaching and teaching, and really rolling up my sleeves to understand.
Maybe where money is sitting on the table that perhaps they haven’t been and grabbing, I guess I’ll say I don’t love that word, but like they haven’t been taking advantage of w w where are those opportunities? Where are we perhaps treating donors, like one size fits all? You know, are we listening?
Are we, are we open to having investment level conversations? Are we walking donors through the financials, all those things. And so it’s pretty. I used the word intensive because I it’s like intense. It’s not like, oh no, we’re working 80 hours, but it’s like, it’s an intense shift. And in a lot of mindset work and shifting on, we used to do things this way and now we do things this way.
And then I, it kind of tapers out just because my clients are in new rhythms and they’re doing new things every month and we can quarter and and I want them putting what they’ve learned. Into action quickly. And so it really turns into coaching where, you know, we’re, we’re going through like, Hey, here’s our next five meetings or here’s our next five solicitations.
And let’s let’s role play. Let’s let’s kind of practice those tough questions that, that one CFO always asks when we come in. What does that look like? And so it, it’s pretty fun to watch the transformation. I will tell you. When people start using the tools we create and we start talking a little different way and really make, I would say like an intentional shift from maybe just receiving gifts to actually soliciting gifts.
It’s really remarkable to see you know, someone started having success and see where maybe money has been sitting on the table and you really grow. You know, six and seven figures. It’s like, really, I really get the front seat. Some pretty remarkable things.
StuSwineford: That’s amazing. Yeah. So it’s really cool to see what can happen when you just ask the question instead of dancing around the question and, you know, I think, I think that a lot of people in the nonprofit space have a hard time with that, which is interesting.
You know, certainly you, you, one would think that someone doing that much good in the world would be able to, to ask for, for help with that. But I think that there’s just a human tendency to shy away from, from that either there’s an ego play going on or, or, or something, but but yeah, just empowering people with the tools to, to just simply have a better ability to.
To ask that question, I think is
SherryQuamTaylor: super valuable. I think part of it Stu is like, it’s like kind of demystifying it to you know, I think even just on the, on the board side, you know, so many so many board members I hear like, I’ll do anything, but don’t make me ask for money. And so I, I think people have this perception of what fundraising is, you know, when it’s going to be.
Either begging or used car salesman and like there’s nothing in the middle. And I think of a true believer in demystifying, what people think fundraising is because it looks a lot like being in relationship with people and and really helping them see how their investment can change lives. And there’s really nothing pushy about that.
If we take the time. It’s really not, of course coming from a real authentic place, but it doesn’t look pushy and it doesn’t look UCL, car sales man. And so my coach said to me a couple months ago that my business coach, she said people say they hate sales, but she said, I think they hate what they think sales is.
And I was like, oh my gosh, this is the same in fundraising. They people hate what they think fundraising is. But once they realize like, oh, it’s actually me just taking the time and being in authentic relationship and really offering this amazing opportunity to invest in an amazing mission who doesn’t want to do that?
It’s it’s, it’s actually not scary.
StuSwineford: Yeah. Yeah. It’s it’s it’s the power of coaching I am, I have discovered and and I’m very committed to is, is just something that I wish more, more and more people would understand. And, and I know that there’s some great language on your website, around the idea of cost versus investment.
And how, how that mindset shift is so important in, in taking that, that step. Tell us that story a little bit about how you came to that realization.
SherryQuamTaylor: Yeah. I mean, you know so I love that you said you, you, you know, you’re invested in coaches and like kind of bought into that. I mean, I can clearly see just as I’ve grown my business and.
I don’t know, I’ve lost track. Am I on your nine 10? I don’t know what I’m on. But I can clearly see my growth you know, on a totally different angle going up when I started investing in coaches. And wasn’t super scary that first time when I clicked and bought some program, which now I wouldn’t even flinch in doing that, but wasn’t super scary.
Yeah, it was scary. It was actually a great exercise because I, in that moment, I literally remember thinking this, this was years ago. I remember thinking, gosh, this is what my clients feel like. Like, is this person going to get me results? Can they be trusted? This feels like a lot of money. And I thought, gosh, this is really almost like a good taste of my own medicine to feel how my clients feel.
But like I just quickly saw like, wow, I have no idea I needed such objectivity and that I actually didn’t know everything that I thought I knew, or whether there may, maybe just are fresh ways to look at a problem that perhaps I I’ve been looking at this same way for too long. So, you know, I’ve, I’ve constantly, as my business has leveled up, I’ve, I’ve constantly leveled out my, my coach and did so again, this past year, And gosh, it just pays back tenfold.
And so it really inspires me to, to get those same results for my clients and to, you know, be able to just say to them like, Hey, I know this is a big investment. Gosh, like in to really help them see, like I can see that you would make this back, you know, so quickly or that this is a sure investment.
There is a good ROI on this. And I think I do feel. Be talking a little bit about my business growth and as maybe you in Congress to do like the mindset work that goes behind that. And that, that really is such a it’s so similar in some of the coaching work I do with my client.
StuSwineford: Yeah. Yeah.
My coach has, well, he has a bunch of sayings, but one of the things that he has related to me is that transformation happens in the speaking of the transformation. And so being able to share those wins and share those experiences just helps other people understand that that, that, that they have access to that same.
That same level of, of growth in the same level of, of, of positive change and And I think we have a tendency to kind of think that that’s bragging or, or hide behind that. But you know, in actuality being able to share those wins and losses, but being able to share whatever transformation is happening is what then.
Makes that transformation even more real and then helps spread that opportunity to others. I
SherryQuamTaylor: love it. I love it. I’m such an advocate for having a coach and I just don’t flinch anymore because I just know you know what it is. I, I actually said to my coach the other day, I was like, well, I’m going to be an A-plus student here.
So like, like I, I, I’m going to put the work in. So I also know if I’m invested in. And something that like, I’m going, I’m going to be the A-plus student and I’m going to put the work in you know, that it is 50 50, like the coach is going to teach me, but I have to take it and run with it. And kind of helped me articulate to some clients who, you know, consider hiring me and, you know, they, they want to know, do I have a guarantee?
You know, I said, oh, I guarantee you, I will teach you exactly what you know, what, what I taught these clients who are having these amazing results. Also at the end of the day, you have to be ready to change and grow and be open to new ways of thinking and be open to really looking at the problem from another angle.
Even though it’s maybe kind of worked for you up to this point it’s not going to help your organization propelled to that next level, or go from two to 10 million or whatever, whatever your.
StuSwineford: Yeah, it’s that? What got you here isn’t necessarily going to get me there idea. Right?
SherryQuamTaylor: So what
StuSwineford: what are the, what are some things that you have seen aside from just sharing stories that, that have helped people really understand? Mindset shift and be able to, to embrace, embrace the idea that they need to invest in, in in getting them to that next level.
SherryQuamTaylor: Yeah. You know, I would say one interesting area that I always start with, which sometimes surprises people because they’re like, wait, aren’t you, the fundraising person.
But there’s a lot of mindset work just around money, I guess I’ll say. And I think even personally what we bring into conversation. Oh gosh, that person would never give that much. Right. Or we certainly couldn’t do that. And so even one of the biggest transformations before we get into the fundraising work sometimes is, is really around just budgeting.
And you don’t have a lot of groups come to me who, you know, maybe have a whatever, 20%, 25% growth initiative every year for the next five years. And they’re in year three and they’re not hitting their numbers. And I really have to ask. You know, but you know, with the strategic initiatives that you’ve spent money on a consultant to put together, and it’s great, are, are the expenses behind those in the budget, because if we’re not putting those expenses in the budget, how will your fundraising team be raised into the right number in the first place?
And so sometimes that’s a real big shift and real big mindset reframe for people to say, Wait, are you telling me, like, even though I don’t have, you know, that money pledged, there’s like I should put it in the budget. And I nine times out of 10, 10 times out of 10, I will tell you to do that because you know, let’s just use an example here.
I’ll I always use round numbers on podcasts. You know, let’s just say your, your, your budget added up and it’s, you know, 4.56. Great. Board-approved budget. That’s great. And then sometimes I’ll say, but is that one growth initiative in there and is that one staff member that you need in there? Well, no, but how would we do that?
Let’s say let’s, let’s put it in so we know what your true need is. The true need is 4.8. And oh no, we don’t have a very strong reserve fund. Maybe we should be putting a financing plan and a true fundraising plan in place to reach 5 million that year. So that’s just but to me it feels practical, but sometimes that’s a bit of a bonkers move of like, wait, you’re telling me the number we want to raise two might be different.
Yeah. And the budget, but well we’ve never needed greater reserves than these last couple of years. Right. And for too long, our mindset, you, don’t kind of, this mindset thing is we’ve been told, like, try to do more on, less, like try to squeeze by try to have everybody wear too many hats and that’s simply doesn’t work.
And so there’s a lot of mindset work, I think, around, around them money and numbers and just the, the, the sector I think, has been. Irrationally frugal for, for too long, when we all know it takes money to grow our businesses.
StuSwineford: Right? Well, it’s like there’s a scarcity mindset there as opposed to an abundance mindset.
And, you know, just understanding that that money is abundant and then creating that opportunity to. To, to put yourself on, on pace to gather all of the, all of the resources that you actually need to be successful is, sounds like that’s part of that first
SherryQuamTaylor: step. It is. And, you know, even just you saying that Heather’s, it’s interesting this scenario play out I guess at the beginning of the.
Where I was talking to two client prospects on the same day. And I always say oh, what’d you raise this last year? And what are you going to raise next year? Where do you, how do you want to grow kind of big, big question. One of the prospects of which of which I love this answer she said, well, we’re, you know, we’re, we’re just at about, at that 2 million mark and I need to get to 10 million.
Like it was like, holy smokes, let’s do this. You know, it was very it’s really abundant. It was. Well, of course we will, you know, just, just help me see the path to it. Help me see what I need to be spending to, to be making that. I hope you see the team that I need to invest in, help me see the board that I need to build.
And I gotta tell you, it was such a wonderful call to be talking to someone so growth minded, and so determined to say, yeah. W w w we’re moving from two to 10. Can you help me? Absolutely. I can. And I’m working with that. But the funny thing was on that same day, you know, it’s like I talked to the next group who was a similar size.
And I said, well, where do you need to grow? And, and it was very much I don’t know, like how, w I don’t think we could do it. We’ve never been able to do it. Maybe we could grow a little, you know, it just, it wasn’t it was all mindset is what I’m getting asked to, but it was, you know, one of those we’ll grow in scale to 10.
And both of them can take the same path. But it really, it really comes down to being open to, to seeing the new path and then fasting in you know, somebody who’s been on that journey before to really guide you through it. Yeah. So it’s just so fun to to help people and really reveal like to them in both of those cases.
Well, here’s how you do it. Exactly. One foot from the other room. This is what it looks like. If people are brave enough to invest in the path and and really like you were saying with some content on my website, like really seeing it as a calculated risk, it’s not risky. It’s, you’re investing in your growth and you’re investing in your people.
And you’re investing in, you know, impacting more lives in both of those.
StuSwineford: Well, right. And, and it’s, it’s an investment. There’s an, there’s a desired outcome attached to that in terms of there’s a return on that, that you’re hoping to achieve in the, you know, the number of things that, well, it makes it a lot easier when you, when you consider it as an investment to, to look at.
Okay, well, you know, maybe the. Maybe that works vastly better than I was expecting it to, or maybe it didn’t work as well as I was expecting it to. But but we take those kinds of those kinds of investment risks all the time. But when we think of them as costs, that then just become something that’s taken out as, as opposed to something that’s being put in.
And and, and I think that, you know, just changing that language and I actually I actually wrote a blog post on this, on my site somewhere. Just about the, the, you know, seeing things as a, as an investment instead of a cost, is, is that first step in, you know, knowing that you’re making smart, calculated decisions to improve your, your current state. Yeah,
SherryQuamTaylor: it’s a, it’s a little I’ve written many, a LinkedIn posts. I’m on LinkedIn a lot. I think that’s maybe how we connected, but it’s a little bit, and I write this all the time. And it’s not even my services. It might be website. It might be you know, I don’t know, accounting or something. So often the, the knee jerk is, was not in the budget, you know?
And it’s like, but hold on one second. We, we just said, we want to grow by 25%. We just said, we have these strategic issues we can’t get to. And so those two statements don’t add up of, you know, what, it’s not in the budget and gosh, we really want to grow, you know, because it really. It really does take that, that investment and that spend to yield more dollars.
And and I think that like that shift in mindset is, you know, many people get it, which is great. I love, I love working with those people, but sometimes the, the leader, the executive director might totally get it and it’s completely on board. But maybe the board is, is not so sure. You know, and so it just depends.
There’s no who to, who do we have to convince them? I’d say you know, it was kind of different depending on the day, but it’s crucial.
StuSwineford: Yeah, it’s I was just, just reflecting on, on, on that mindset piece and, and how important it is to, to really, like you said, just budget for it. Just say, look, you know, we want to grow this much and it’s going to require this much investment to, to do that.
Right. And, and as long as those numbers, aren’t, you know, flip flop the wrong direction and, and there’s a reason. You know, re reasonable numbers attached to both of those, both of those outcomes are, or those inputs then everything’s good. Yeah. Yeah. And,
SherryQuamTaylor: and you know, and I don’t hear me saying like, oh, triple your budget.
You know, like I would never advise anybody to do that, but I do find that sometimes the reason we aren’t growing or our funding has plateaued has way more to do with the spend versus the. And so that’s why I, I always start with budget. It surprises people a little bit. But it really is the key to setting up the team to, to, to reach or exceed your true budgeted need.
And then how can I say, I’ll just want to say one other thing on this kind of budget topic or any topic. I always find that a lot of investment level donors, meta-major level donors who might be in our donor for. They don’t always know you need more money and it’s always a funny conversation of like, do we think they know we need more money?
And if it’s like, well, we’re a nonprofit Sherry, of course they know we need money, but so often I find that donors don’t truly understand the need. And, and sometimes that’s because of what we’re doing or how we’re articulating you know, well, we, we hope to raise 4.6 or we’d like to do that. You know, to have it to 2 million of it is government funds.
And so we’re hoping, you know, versus really owning it. It’s sitting at the table and saying, we have a $5 million need this year. Could I kind of walk you through what that looks like? When my clients move from a reactive, like, well, we hope we could, or we’d like to, to really articulating with confidence a plan and really almost inviting that person along on the journey.
It’s amazing to me, how many donors say what? I didn’t know you needed that, or why didn’t you ask me that? Or I had no idea you were this bag. I didn’t understand how you were funded. And so I always, I was pause and say, do your donors know you need money, rich, which really goes back to have you had an honest moment with yourself to really, really know financially what the organization needs to do.
X, Y, and Z. This. And so often there’s a disconnect there and cash or investment level donors, they need to know that they they’re dying for information about our financials. Not saying that it’s more important than, than story and impact and change lies. Of course, that’s, that’s a huge part of it, but there’s a financial story and there’s a, there’s a are you a good investment story that has to be told.
So often I find that that, that fundraisers skip because they think donors don’t want to know that, but they do.
StuSwineford: Yeah. It’s amazing what people don’t know and how that affects what they’re, what they’re willing to give. I mean, it’s kind of like the value proposition, right? When you, you know, value is so relative you know, Where one person may perceive something is worth X and other person is perhaps willing to spend three X on that same thing, because it brings them so much, so much joy.
I mean, if you’re, if you’re incredibly hungry at pizza is worth way more than $7, whatever it goes for it. Right. And so. You know, just, just communicating that and communicating that I love this idea of starting with, with the budget and what you need, what budget you re is required to meet the needs that you have, as opposed to, you know, even just kind of wishing for, for some sort of growth, you know, and be like, look, we want to go to here we get, when we’re gonna need.
These three people. So we’re putting that in the budget. We’re going to go get it is just a super cool.
SherryQuamTaylor: Yeah. And then of course, we’ve got to do different things, right? We can’t just put it in the budget and kind of just hustle harder or try to crank a little bit more out of that appeal. You know, we can, we can have confidence in doing it that way when we learn then how to do new things.
And and, and to know that we are stopped doing, doing some things and starting to do other things. No, we’re, we’re, we’re playing off with a different instrument, you know, at that point. But I think like the biggest thing I’ll tell people is you know, with that kind of value proposition, I’d like that angle is the best part of fundraising is like, especially with individuals we don’t actually need to to know what that person’s best gift is.
You know, it’s actually, none of our business, our job is really to articulate. And, and to fully share the need and to really lead them to an opportunity where they, they might give their best gift or, or, you know, that we’ve answered every question in their mind so that they’re like, oh, I want to give my best gift.
And I want to give that every year.
StuSwineford: Yep. You ask them to give $20. They’re probably going to give $20. You ask them to give what they think this is. This is worth to them, then you could get 20 grand. Yes.
SherryQuamTaylor: Oh, right. And and I always have this concept of or I was taught forever ago. Th that we really do.
We want all of our donors giving their best gift. And so exactly what you just said so often you know, somebody is like, yeah, I’m giving 25 bucks a month. Well, that, that’s what they asked me to do when. They might not understand the need and B may have way greater capacity, but we’re just surfing them down there as a monthly donor.
And down the road, they might be writing $25,000 checks. And so, you know, there’s, there’s such an important just, I gotta get, again, I guess it’s mindset shift of really pausing and saying, you know, is this donor giving their best gift crush with her now? W what don’t they understand? You know, are they just coming to our event every year and right in that $1,000 check you know, because if they are giving that check at an event it’s not their best gift, you know, we need to be soliciting our donors one-on-one w when possible, and when they have that capacity.
And so there’s just you know, a lot of very, again, very practical things we can be doing. It’s really where I do see see money left on the table. For sure. I have a client who added seven figures of general operating to his bottom line last 18 months. Simply because he heard me say that concept actually on a bypass.
And he, he called me and said, I’m sure you said something, you know, that I, you know, and, and, and I don’t think our donors are giving their best. I think we have great donors. But I just can kind of guarantee that they’re not. And so you know, I just use him as an example because we really worked hard.
It’s not quick, right. It’s 18 months, but like most of those gifts and that, that growth of seven figures were from donors who already were giving to them. But that’s how much money was sitting on the table from individuals. You know, in the form of family foundations and kind of pivoting into something a bit more relational with them, or gosh you know, a lot of gala sponsorships that we worked so hard to shift into mission-aligned gifts that the move from $50,000 gala sponsorships to $100,000 unrestricted gifts.
Right. And so it’s, you know, it’s, it’s not an easy thing, but I see people make that shift every day. Which is pretty exciting.
StuSwineford: Yeah, it really is. And it’s just so interesting how reluctant people are to go back to those relationships and. That’s usually for really any organization, going back to people who have, who have engaged with you in the past is you know, is, is your fastest route to to revenue gains.
And it’s, you know, it’s certainly not as as exciting as landing a new relationship or, or, you know, creating a new opportunity, but it’s. It’s just solid in there. And it’s, it’s all about that relationship
SherryQuamTaylor: piece. Yeah. Yeah. That’s really, that is the best gift every year, best gift every year. You know, why wouldn’t that donor it, well, why wouldn’t they want to give every year, right?
If they really understand your plans, they really understand what you’re doing, your programs, they really understand your financial need. Why wouldn’t we assume they want to give every year for taking the time to build a relationship we’re taking that. Really treating them as stakeholders and and really seeing that this, this relationship is a win-win like I like let’s assume they want to give again.
You know, and so I think that has a lot to do with thinking and impact reporting and really using that step to really impress upon that donor, how well their gift was used and how lives were changed and, and, and really use that stuff. In the donor experience to lead that donor to their next gift.
It’s a huge area of I think of like low-hanging fruit for organizations to really use that, that thanking and impact reporting step to, to lead that donor to their next gift so that you don’t have to kind of try to figure out why to call him next. Or right
StuSwineford: now, Yeah. So what are your, what are your thoughts on that?
You know, if I’m thinking back when I get, I get called for two, to either up my engagement with an, with an organization or, or donate and, and they usually start with a number in terms of, you know, could we. Can we get you to, to give $50 or whatever, but, you know, that’s potentially leaving out the opportunity for me to give, to give my best gift, but if you recommend to to nonprofit
SherryQuamTaylor: favorite topics here so I guess I’ll answer that.
Maybe a little less at the $50 level and more at the maybe mid or major level. Just yeah, I, I’m a believer in having some tools in hand that you can really lead a donor to an open conversation about what their best gift might look like. Presenting the need in a way that, that helps them see like the types and sizes of gifts that the organization is looking.
I’m not a real believer in saying, I know you gave 5,000 last year, so could you give 7,500 this year? And I’m not at not a believer in that. I shouldn’t say believer, but like, I don’t always advocate for that methodology because I’ve sat in meetings where what, you know, in the olden days when we weren’t on zoom all day which olden days, I guess, 2019 I got to go sit in some solicitations and I saw gifts go from like $10,000 to six figure gifts.
And they’re just like, wait, what? Oh, wow. We didn’t know this was your need. We didn’t know all of these things. And gosh, I think like if we would have come up with the number we might’ve said, could you go from 10 to 20 or 10 to 15? Yep. And so I just am, am until we really get so deep that, that we’re having such an overcome open conversation that they’re like, no, really that’s my max.
I don’t want our preconceived thoughts about what they can or cannot give get in the way. And so I’m just a real believer in articulating the need and asking for their best gift and really leading them. To a deep understanding of what that could look like. And I find that donor’s gifts grow tremendously more a little cut cousin comment, if you don’t mind me making on this topic which I don’t know, it might be controversial to some people, but it’s a little bit of a same or the same tone that, that I feel about board’s give, get I just see so much money left on the table.
With gifts gets where I had a client recently telling me that they had a Newport member. They’re excited about this person. And I think maybe they’re give this. My clients was maybe I don’t know, maybe a 10 K gift gap. And this person was like, oh, okay. That’s all you need. My last board I was on was a $20,000 gift, you know, and it was, it was, it was literally like, oh, you don’t need me to get this.
Right. And so I just feel like. Even with our board members is the gift get their best gift or is it keeping them in a box? Are you soliciting for their best gift? Even if they have it, even if you have a gift gap you know, so often I see board members gifts grow because they don’t even understand the full need of the organization.
Right. So I don’t know. I just, I just bring that up because. It really that the fundraiser or the solicitor we more control of that kind of gift, timing and gift size than you think. But we gotta be open to, you know, to kind of breaking through some of the old, transactional and traditional methods that really don’t suit our growth plans anymore.
StuSwineford: Right. Are you tying that to this? I’m assuming that the conversation is really. It’s storytelling and, and not only discussing the need, but the, but the outcomes that will be generated when you achieve that need, is that accurate?
SherryQuamTaylor: Yeah. You know, I, sometimes I’m, I’ve been guilty of pivoting right into like the finance doc and the ask and yeah, of course, like, of course there’s, there’s the whole storytelling element and we want to make sure their, their mission, the line and their mission forgiving is, is our mission.
And. Eight months, years, sometimes to do that. Yeah. And then when people are giving gifts to, to really help that donor see the impact of their gift and how can we, how can we do that in a real exclusive or customized way that that really, really is rewarding from a heart sense. You know, th the third gift was, was, was used well, and gosh, I want to give it.
And so I feel like, yes, of course there’s mission story, there’s all the storytelling. But, but, or maybe, and of where I see money left on the table is when we leave it there. When we say yeah, it was great meeting. I th they, they love what we do. They, I think, I think I saw tears in their eyes and they said, they’d make a gift.
Right. And then we get the gift in the mail. Oh, it’s only $5,000. I felt they’d give a hundred thousand dollars. So like the part of the story that was left out was he, can I share with you how we’re growing? Okay. Share with you what our need is to actually like, not miss a beat and pivot right into that and, and explain, you know, in essence, your finances within confidence and you really show how different parts of.
Tie back to impact and and to really not miss a beat and have that be very fluid. And and I do just find that people stop short and, and investment level donors need not only the mission story, but they need the financial story. They want to know that their investment is spent well. And I always tell, I always tell people who I’m coaching.
You know, if we think of who these people are likely. You know, they’re entrepreneurs, business leaders leaders in the community running in many cases, their own successful businesses. They’ve probably had to sit down and ask for investments to, they’ve had to, had to really talk about their plans and the money they need for their plans.
So speak their language like w this is certain language, right? Meet them where they are having. CEO to CEO conversation because like what an opportunity a and B, if nobody else was doing it cash, it really sets your sets your organization apart. It really helps them see you as, as transparent and in forthcoming and in someone with a plan that that I want to invest in something that has a plan.
It’s a win-win in that situation.
StuSwineford: Yeah, it really is. It really is. So if somebody were to be interested in working with you, what, what are some of the things that they should have teed up in terms of know where are they in their, in their growth? What, what are some of the problems that they’re bumping up against that they, that, that you help bring clarity
You know, I would say problems that are maybe presenting themselves would be you know, we’re, we’re, we’re raising a good amount of money, but they’re still cashflow issues. I’ve $10 million organizations come to me who struggle with payroll sometimes because it’s too restrictive. Perhaps you know, you’re, you’re, you’re growing, but like it’s, it’s, it’s, you’re growing in restricted funding.
You know, another thing would just be the, I think that what I said. We have a strategic plan, but like we can’t ever seem to do all the great things in it. Because you do need that flexibility. And so oftentimes it is coming to me because they, they, the great development staff who, who know how to write grant reports, know how to plan events, know how to send appeals, but they’ve never, they’ve never, ever had to learn how to do major gift work.
And it’s it’s time for. You know, if you didn’t get the sense that our conversation today I want people who want to invest in growth and have, have you know, great growth plans and great missions. And they really just do need the revenue to match their big visions.
StuSwineford: Right. Right. I love that. I love that change.
In idea you know, coming at it from, from the, what do we need to get us there? And let’s go, let’s go for that. Yeah, for sure. So, I can’t believe it’s been an hour since we started talking. And it was such a great time chatting with you today. How can people find out more about you and get in touch if they if they’re interested in, well, hop
SherryQuamTaylor: on my website, which is Quam taylor.com. It’s my, my made it and my married name was Shannon. And then I’d also say I’m on LinkedIn every single day. And engaging in engineering content there first. So go over and find me on LinkedIn. And we’ll have a current.
StuSwineford: That sounds amazing. I will share those links in the, in the show notes as well.
So I love having these kinds of conversations and talking through things, but I’m also really committed to being you know a person that inspires action. So if someone has listened to our show today, what, what action item would you want them to take to get them on their way to making the world a better place?
SherryQuamTaylor: You know, I would say that there’s never been a more important time, or I’ll say maybe even like a wider window or a door to walk through where I think donors and funders are open to hearing different ideas and in maybe are moving some of the old misconceptions to decide. I I’ve just really encouraged people to go for it, to to walk into those scary the feel risky elements and, and really really commit to, to doing things differently into growing your business at greater greater strides because, you know, there’s, there’s just never been a more important time.
And I take every opportunity to say, gosh, aren’t we so thankful how non-pro. Just like stood up and stood in the gap for your community, for our state and our nation and these last couple of years. And so own it, you know, it be a big deal, own it. Ask for what you need and assume that people want to support you in that manner.
StuSwineford: I love it. Thank you so much for being on the show today. Had such a good time talking with you and, and I’m excited to hear what’s next for you. Thanks for having me have a great day. Bye. And there you have it. Another great episode of relish this. Thanks again for listening. You can find past episodes of the [email protected]
And remember if you liked what you heard today, please subscribe and leave a review wherever you listen to podcasts. For more information on purpose. Grab your free copy of my book. Mission uncomfortable. How nonprofits can embrace purpose driven marketing to survive and thrive. Get your copy [email protected]
Thanks again for listening. Come back next week. Won’t ya.