“You want to be the pebble in the pond that creates the ripple for change.”
— Tim Cook, Apple CEO

We start with Why because We play to Win

concept credit: Start With Why by  Simon Sinek

concept credit: Start With Why by Simon Sinek

Playing for both teams has its advantages

If you’ve ever felt the pressure of a looming funding deadline, a deadline that no matter how many weeks or months previously, you marked in your calendar and told yourself that you’d work on the application bit by bit because you were not going to end up working late again, I’ve been in your shoes. 

Or maybe you are a diligent worker and got the work done with time to spare, but hesitation has washed over and you just can’t bring yourself to click ‘submit’, I know those feelings of agony all too well. 

How about the time when you revised your deck more times than you’d like to admit, finally stopping only because it was either time to present or because you ran out of commas to grammatically correct? To the folks who got stuck just envisioning themselves in any (or all) of those scenarios, held back by a myriad of reasons - anxiety, self-doubt, opportunity, ineligibility, overwhelmed, lack of clarity, excitedness, nerves, writer’s block - those are all the shots I didn’t take either, as hockey’s G.O.A.T. Wayne Gretzky would agree.

What I’m getting at here, is that I got you! You are a Beneficiary, a pursuer of coins. I’ve walked in your shoes and I’ve also held the door open for folks like yourself. I promise you that even the famed Development Officers, star Fundraisers, boastful Brokers and working Funding Consultants (like myself) feel all those feels, each and every time a funding opportunity presents itself - but we persist.

The game of odds

Obviously, we’d all like to think of ourselves as superstars, infallible, always successful pursuers of coin, but the game is tough and if I’m being honest, it’s not always fair. I tell my clients on every Disco-Call that writing grant applications is a science and an art, but once you click submit, it’s a game of odds. Now, this could either be the worst pitch to get your business or it’s the most honest (I’m still not sure) but it’s the truth.

Rather than turning this into a listicle of issues & gripes, I think we can all agree (and put it in the parking lot, for now) that this is an ecosystem that could do with some major UX enhancements. But my assertion that the game of funding is a game of odds, let’s unpack that for a hot second because it’s actually a good thing, a great thing (!!!). Let me tell you why. Funding is ultimately a 3-player game. We’ve already met the Beneficiary, you’ll meet the Juror in another article, and last but not least, the Funder, a grantor of coins. Don’t sweat Funder, I got you too. To grant coins, there are ultimately two methods at the Funders discretion by which to make applicant considerations for their funding opportunity:

  1. Quietly, to Friends, Family & Fools (a cohort, kindly named by the funding community, not me)

  2. Formally, through a Request for Proposal (RFP). 

The latter, assures that funding is accessible and that the RFP process generates the best of the best, rather than the best of who you know. Win-Win-Win, right? Definitely! But the latter also means that oftentimes, your application is one of hundreds, hence the game of odds. 

So how do you win this game?

Because funding opportunities should be designed

I’ve been a multi-team player for the majority of my working life (CFRE in progress), but prior to launching FORTUNE x FUNDING, when I started sketching out my social lean canvas, brainstorming business names, registering social media handles and choosing my brand colours (that is step 4 of starting a business, non?), I also talked to a lot of folks who reinforced for me the notion that in most cases, Funders see the world by looking out from the top floor of the building, while Beneficiaries see the world from feeling the grass beneath their feet. If you will, a birds-eye view and a worms-eye view, respectively. 

Inherently, the view isn’t the issue at hand, it’s the differing perspective. Having worn jerseys for Team Funder, Team Beneficiary & Team Juror, I’ve seen first hand the missed connections that happen in the field. I take this to heart. It’s also a primary reason why I launched FORTUNE x FUNDING with two target audience groups. I often get challenged on this, “why didn’t you do a better job defining your audience?” I did, and thank you for your concern. So believe me when I tell you that I agonized about this for weeks. I’m confident, though, that I made the right decision because my business is stronger when I can work with both audience groups, empathizing with both Funder and Beneficiary, and adjusting their perspectives one play at a time.

Ask any athlete how it feels to score on a good play and they’ll likely tell you that it just feels right! Makes sense, a good play is designed. Designing a play takes into consideration the team, the individuals’ talent and skill, the training and the competition all so that the player can be best set up to score. If you are a Beneficiary, going up against who knows how many other eligible Beneficiaries, would you throw something together or would you strategize your play? If you are a Funder, offering out your hard-earned profits or returns, would you throw something together or would you strategize your play?

Why, How, What?

If to design funding opportunities is why FORTUNE x FUNDING is playing to win, let me tell you how we’re doing it. FORTUNE x FUNDING designs funding opportunities that gain access, create utility and ensure a continued calibre of meaningful funding opportunities. Those are values that we hold near & dear to our ikigai and to the folks that we want to design for. Our services depend on who we are collaborating with and what the specific need of the client. FORTUNE x FUNDING designs funding opportunities that gain access, create utility and ensure a continued calibre of meaningful funding opportunities by offering services for Team Funder, such as Scan, Experience, Build and Judge (this one let’s us play designated hitter for Team Juror), and when playing for Team Beneficiary, we offer services such as Strategize, Research, Write and Review.

Like I said before, I got you!

Tune in next time: Do you have a funding strategy?