One of my clients is a terrific leader and motivator. Toward the end of each program year, he gathers with his program directors and he poses two questions:
- What are the most meaningful things we accomplished over the past 9 months?
- What do these accomplishments tell us we should be doing in the year ahead?
He prefaces these questions by saying “what we have done is history but it provides a springboard for what we CAN do in the months ahead.” From the ensuing discussion we write up what we call our “springboard case” which, in turn, becomes the nexus and core for fundraising communications moving ahead.
I realized that most of you reading this post do the same — or similar — thing each year. What seems to be different in this case is that the term “springboard” is a much more dynamic analogy for planning. Why?
A springboard gives you energy. Think about it. When you jump off a platform (which is immovable) you create your own momentum and energy to propel you forward. In the case of a springboard, the flexibility of the platform adds energy to the jump. In building the “springboard case” the goal is to identify what adds energy to accomplishment and helps to create momentum.
For example, in the case of my client, we found that 90% of high school juniors, all of whom came into the program two years earlier with failing grades, had achieved passing scores on state standardized tests. We agree that having students achieve these academic benchmarks is great but what does it mean as we move into the next program year? Upon further reflection, we agreed that the accomplishment builds confidence among these students which suggests that they can and must be challenged to do more. This leads to the “springboard case” for a financial investment on the part of a foundation in program expansion/enhancements to deliver a more challenging/enriching level of service. In short: our students made the leap, we are moving rapidly forward and we don’t want to lose our momentum.
The concept of a “springboard case” isn’t unique. Read any of Tom Peters’ various writings on the topic of excellence and passion in the organization and at the core you will find that great and growing organizations have energy and momentum at their core. Ideally, we can find the same in most nonprofit organizations where dedicated and talented staff devote themselves as change agents at every level. Your “springboard case” for support is there — find it and share your story with investors who can help you effect the lasting and positive change your constituents and community deserves!