Causes and Organizations Need To Start With Purpose To Make a Social Impact On The World
Charities should be the best organizations at explaining their purpose but in my opinion companies are beating them to it. Businesses such as Apple, Innocentand Virgin are working to turn customers and employees into engaged advocates for the brand. These companies have understood the value of building an ethical or dynamic brand that is seen to offer far more than just a product and they are building that idea into all of their operations – from recruitment to marketing and decision-making.
So why aren’t charity brands making the same impact, after all they exist to make the world better? The simple answer is that often charities forget to communicate that. Instead they are so caught up in telling supporters what the organization does and how that they forget to communicate the reasons behind what they do. Could you, as a charity professional, describe your organization’s purpose in a sentence that makes people want to get involved? Would your donors use the same description?
Challenge: Charities and community groups need to reclaim their respective sense of why their organizations exist. To nail down what a charity’s purpose is and shout about the unique difference it makes in the world. That means ensuring the reasons why charities are set up and work so hard really are at the heart of these organizations – from the culture through to communications. It is then, and only then, that people can develop a sense of pride in that purpose, whether they are supporters, staff or suppliers.
A great example of a cause that has a lot to “shout out about” to organizations that can help it get its concept out into the world is Ubuntu Blox. Here we have a housing concept that literally changes the way homes can be built by the people and for the people in developing nations, and even here in the US. The concept is to use unrecyclable plastic that is polluting our waterways worldwide and create one pound building blocks that are tied together by welders string. The house is hurricane proof and earthquake proof. The first house was built in Haiti, a success to the locals who yell Ubuntu, Ubuntu. To date they are more scared of their homes than earthquakes and homes built by Habitat, the Gates Foundation, and the Clinton Organization are ghost towns.
The cause got great press and even a blessing from the Dali Lama to build these homes in India. So why is the press not working? The purpose is obvious. Just think if someone like BP Oil came into the picture and funded the cause so that we could work on the issue of the plastic that pollutes our waterways worldwide? The cost to build these homes is minimal and can you imagine if these homes were built in Los Angeles or the Bay Area where the thought of an earthquake is “lurking” over the locals? The answer to this question is typical of many causes. It does not have the manpower to grow a team to reach out to potential donors.
Organizations need to do a better job at explaining and living by their purpose knowing that this goes way beyond just marketing or coming up with a catchy strapline. Organizations that live and breathe their purpose are dynamic places to work, where people feel their role has meaning, whether they are working with beneficiaries, in the finance team or raising funds. Can you imagine if Ubuntu Blox was your company’s cause and how employees would get the opportunity to help save millions of lives, while also working on the massive plastic pollution issue that is killing our sea life and our dependency on drinking or eating with plastic? HUGE!
So how often does your organization refer to its purpose in meetings? How about when it is making day-to-day decisions? Is it front of mind when fundraisers are asking for donations or writing an appeal? Does the charity make hiring decisions based on shared values? It’s time to take a look at these questions in a big way. Causes like Ubuntu Blox are game changers. And if organizations know and follow their purpose, they are going to change the world with a positive social impact. No doubt about it.