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Selling Your Strategy: How to Get Big Ideas Funded (Deep Dive 2)

October 2, 2023 @ 2:00 pm 3:00 pm

You’ve got the big advocacy idea, but it’s not going to be cheap. Advocating for additional resources isn’t easy in today’s economy. Learn ways to “make it rain” and build the case for budgets to turn your ideas into reality.

Helena Arose, The Antiquities Coalition
Stacey Chappell, American Hospital Association (moderator)
Cristina Nurnberger, Kaiser Permanente
Jon Simons, NCTA – The Internet & Television Association


  1. How can you be an effective advocate for your department? 
    1. (HA) 
      1. Change the narrative: Looting is not just a white-collar or victimless crime, this impacts how they apply for funding or gain perspectives of the general public  
      2. Align with leadership goals: Align your narrative with the priorities of those you are trying to coordinate with (environmental, embassies, climate change) 
      3. Avoid duplicating efforts 
    2. (JS) 
      1. Educate, educate, educate: might feel repetitive, but it will eventually land among partners 
      2. Connect the dots: Might be obvious to us, but others need help connecting the dots 
      3. Encourage participation/inclusion: If you’re hosting an event, loop in other departments so they can learn what it is we do as advocacy departments 
      4. Always be selling 
    3. (CN) 
      1. Start with a strategy, not the tactics. Don’t assume that resources exist in small or large organizations. 
      2. Align with the mission 
      3. Think small, with research to back it up. Targeted solution to a problem. 
  2. Defining ROI 
    1. (HA) 
      1. Identify flexible indicators 
      2. Validity of “soft indicators” 
        1. Requires education for stakeholders or leadership 
      3. Avoid sacrificing the idea, especially when incorporating other teams 
    2. (JS) 
      1. The goal should never be the only metric of success
      2. Develop levels of success 
        1. Goal, benefits, stakeholder perception 
      3. Set yourself up for success and you will never lose 
    3. (CN) 
      1. Awareness is a complete sentence: getting your message in front of the right audience is a worthwhile investment  
      2. Quality over quantity every time – all she could get approved was 3 static ads, but with right campaign and targeting, these were effective 
      3. Build in research – survey post-campaign saw a 5% lift in awareness/recall 
      4. Wanted to separate this campaign/creative from the brand marketing 
      5. High frequency (10x to 15x) 
  3. Building cross-department alliances 
    1. (HA) 
      1. Natural allies vs. project needs, especially when there aren’t other departments to work with 
      2. Financial crimes task force report helped build credentials 
    2. (JS) 
      1. If you educate your teammates, alliances will become natural 
      2. Don’t be afraid to lean on leadership to help overcome internal challenges. Your success is their success. 
      3. Demonstrate how a goal will benefit their mission 
    3. (CN) 
      1. Find your allies 
      2. Solicit feedback to gain buy-in. Listen to teammates but help them understand that they’ve been heard. 
      3. Build trust and relationships will follow 
  4. How do you teach others about advocacy and how it fits into others’ priorities? How to translate? 
    1. (JS) Seek to understand their goals and then help them connect the dots 
    2. (CN) Analogies, break it down, build trust, don’t patronize, come with passion 
  5. Prepping your pitch 
    1. (HA) 
      1. Understand your ask 
      2. Understand the landscape, use your time wisely  
      3. Format for how the pitch will be received 
        1. in-person/spoken pitch vs a written one, understanding key terms 
        2. Keep and assess past applications, and ask for feedback on applications 
    2. (JS) 
      1. Prepping your pitch is the first step in negotiation 
      2. Clearly define the goal 
      3. Identify high-level tactics in a visually appealing way (understand who your audience is) 
      4. Take a tiered approach (people like options, especially when approving a budget) 
      5. Acknowledge challenges 
      6. Promote cross-functional benefits 
      7. Understand your audience – what do they care about? 
    3. (CN) 
      1. Shape and adapt your story to the audience 
        1. Marketing team cares about different things than legal, policy, medical, etc 
      2. Effective communication is not a throwaway 
        1. Maybe ask people to turn cameras on, demand attention when communicating 
      3. Prepare to experience resistance – how do you respond to negativity? 
  6. Working around a “NO” if you can’t get a “YES” 
    1. (HA) 
      1. Save all work and outputs 
      2. Request feedback 
      3. Recognize and utilize 
    2. (JS) 
      1. Prepare yourself for a range of responses and rebuttals 
      2. If you’ve tiered your pitch, work your way down. At smaller amounts, frame ideas as a test run. 
      3. Don’t show frustration, look optimistically for other solutions while you’re at the table. 
    3. (CN) 
      1. “Are you against…?” (harder question to get around) 
      2. Reframe and propose a pilot 
      3. Don’t get discouraged – perseverance and consistency is key 
  7. Questions 
    1. How to report success in a way that makes people excited about it so that you can get funded again? 
      1. Visually
      2.  Finance team – get in on their regular standing meetings 
      3. Maybe they only care about your top 3 takeaways – give them only that, but have your in-depth reports ready 
      4. Take quotes from people and highlight them in your report 
    2. How do you take abstract goals and sell them to others? (money laundering) 
      1. How to apply show, not tell 
      2. Adapting to USAID grant indicators, both parties can be adaptable 
      3. You may have to repeat yourself more than you’d like to 
      4. Humanize the outcome and keep it specific 



October 2, 2023
2:00 pm – 3:00 pm
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