Man lying down in the desert.It’s sad to see, but it’s true. In the non-profit community, many of us have lost our way. We’ve moved away from our deeper purpose and become organizations with little heart and diffused focus.
It always starts out pure. A couple of people (sometimes more) see a need. They have a passion for it. Something has to be done! So they get together to DO something. At first it may be slightly disorganized and organic. But stuff is getting done. And everyone is pulling together.
The net of all of this is that the non-profit, in its most basic form, is group of humans bound together for a common cause. As it grows, some of them are involved in governance and leadership. Others are staff. Others are volunteers. Still others are donors. Some are paid and belong to a formal and legal organization. Others are outside of that structure.
But they all have one thing in common – the cause they’ve committed themselves to.
And the entire group is organized into three major categories: those who are on the front line delivering the solution (Program and Volunteers), those who are providing the resources to make it happen (Donors) and those who are supporting the entire effort (Admin/Ops staff and Volunteers).
The whole thing is about delivering a solution to a need on the planet. And all of the people involved are focused on making that happen.
But then things start to go bad.
As time passes, the organization often becomes more complex and people tend to forget the basic unifying purpose. They start to believe that what they are doing, separate from everyone else, is the most important thing. Their energy and power focuses solely on themselves. This is not good.
Not only are the other players diminished or modified in their roles, but the core mission – the heart of it – is lost. Ignorance and callousness seeps in. And something that was once beautiful and helpful becomes corrupted.
This ignorance or callousness causes a staff person to lose appreciation for why the organization exists and where money comes from. And all of this results in a brazen lack of sensitivity to donors, who are the economic engine of the organization.
Jeff and I see this happening all the time. It’s so sad.
Stop right now and think about your organization. Is its heartbeat close to the reason you were formed? If so, you are in the minority – congratulations.
If not, take steps to lead your organization back. Come back to why you exist. And bring your staff back with you. Make it a priority, since being back in the place you started is where you had the greatest alignment of purpose, determination and heart.