Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Don't Believe Your Mission! Live Up to It!

Don't Believe Your Mission! Live Up to It!

Belief is a tricky thing. I thought I had to at least believe something before I could witness it. And then I saw, many times, shamans in Korea stand barefoot on razor sharp rice straw cleavers. I couldn't believe it, but there it was, before my eyes! They were doing this on behalf of a person who was deathly ill with a spiritual disease. No trickery. These blades were so sharp they attracted skin! And the people were eventually helped.

As a propagandist (and journalist, I know the difference!), one who is a promoter of missions, a fund- and attention-raiser for nonprofit causes, I can assure you that I can write a gut-wrenching, cause celébre mission statement, the heart beat of any appeal for funds. These words are palpable. One can almost smell, touch, taste, hear and see the need.

Too many folks in the nonprofit field think that perception is all that is needed to turn hearts and hands into a donation. What they are missing is the source of life itself.

It's important to live up to one's mission. We're not in the celebrity business, where the most hollow reason for getting someone's attention is good enough for the moment. We've got substance and a mission to support.

Here's a test: Write three headlines that you'd like to see on the front page of your local newspaper (or web log / blog ... in the case that your local print paper has fallen to the realities of communications and economic chaos of these times). What a dream!
  • (Insert your organization's name) conquers (insert your raison d'etre)
  • Community goes all out to (insert your raison d'être) with (Insert your organization's name)
  • (Insert your raison d'être) is a thing of the past / has been achieved by (Insert your organization's name)
It's a great exercise for a board meeting, especially with a "seasoned" board. Yes, we want to believe that we're actually vital to and have engaged our community / constituency, that we're successful and that we're capable of being recognized. But neither we, nor our nonprofit organization can survive on the junk food notoriety of entertainment celebrities.

Nice. Now get down to work. It's time not to believe the mission, but to Live Up to It! Continuously refresh not just the commitment but the practice. Activate it, even in a small way. Keeping it vital is keeping the heartbeat healthy.

No matter what, Don't Forget to Ask for the Money!

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