A recipe for an effective cause-based organisation


Recently I heard a so-called “celebrity chef” on one of those reality programs salivating over the essential ingredients that go into a perfect dish. This prompted me to think about the ingredients that blend together to make a perfect cause-based organization.

I know this isn’t an original thought and plenty has previously been written on this but just as everyone likes to tweak a recipe to stamp their individuality on a dish, I thought I would have a go.

So here are my ingredients for an effective cause-based organisation.

1. Commence with Cause-Cause-Cause – The Cause is all important. It has to be needed by society. The organization must be totally focused on this Cause. And it needs to be unambiguous and clearly articulated so it motivates, can be embraced and is supportable.

2. Add a strong mixture of program excellence and advocacy –  A truly effective organisation doesn’t only deliver great programs as these on their own will not affect large-scale social change. So they add policy advocacy to gain community support, get Governments to take notice and eventually change legislation, if necessary.

3. Sprinkle in some Evangelists – Great cause-based organisations build strong communities of supporters who help them achieve their larger goals. And we are not only talking about high profile sports people, politicians or A-list celebrities here, but also volunteers, donors and most importantly current and past employees. To inspire supporters’ commitment, these organisations create emotional experiences that maintains and grows the supporter’s connections to the cause and the organisation’s core values. As the evangelists spread, they in turn recruit others and pretty soon a movement is happening.

4. Complement with equal portions of a switched-on board of directors and highly capable and motivated staff –  The organisation must have a group of committed individuals who embrace and pursue the organisation’s cause relentlessly. They need to be connected with community, understand their governance responsibilities, stick to policy and know when to can a good idea. Staff need to be well trained, remain focused on the cause despite the myriad of distractions and appreciate their roles as evangelists.

5. Throw in a road map of where you are going with an understanding of how you will get there. – Sounds elementary my dear Watson, but it is no coincidence that the stand out cause-based organisations have well-crafted and clearly understood strategic plans.

6. Pour on some technology – Effective organisations embrace technology as an enabler. They understand the fact, whether they like it or not, that technology touches all aspects of our lives every hour of every day, and it has permanently changed the ways they provide and buy services, recruit, manage, communicate, raise funds, and share and acquire knowledge.

7. 100mls of extreme agility. – Another feature of highly effective organisations is that they continually challenge the status quo and are exceptionally adaptive. They can respond to changing circumstances with one innovation after another. Sure they make mistakes but have also mastered the ability to listen, learn, and modify their approach so any failure is a mere speed bump.

8. A spoonful of marketing for flavour – Effective organisations get that everything they do is marketing, and see every activity, from service provision to how the reception is covered, as a marketing opportunity to pursue their cause.

9. Top with diverse and endurable revenue streams – Quite simply, organisations that have diversified sources of income also have the ability to deliver on their cause without waiting for a white knight. “Pigs might fly” I hear you say. OK, have a look at some highly impactful organisations and you will find that they gave up waiting for their white knight and took action to make it happen.

10. Place in the oven and constantly observe social impact –  Effective organisations do far more than record the number of clients visited or how much was spent on a program – these indicators tell you nothing. Rather they continually assess changes in behaviour and individual circumstance – Is a person now literate? Has the homeless family moved from their car to permanent, secure and affordable housing etc.?

You may wish to regig this mixture and add other ingredients. All I know is that if you stick to this recipe in your organisation there is an excellent chance you will be part of a highly effective team and one that is delivering great results for society.

Author: Chris Gandy, Director, Cause and Effective. Chris and his team of Associates can assist you to develop the right ingredients to make your organisation truely effective.

About B-Cause

B-Cause is published by Cause and Effective. We help good causes find and attract effective leaders.

2 Responses

  1. Craig D

    An interesting way of looking at this issue. Would like to comment on the role of evangelists and the important part employees and, in particular, exemployees play in this. Disgruntled or soured exemployees can really damage your brand and with social media as their trumpet it is very difficult to recover.

Thats our take on things. Over to you, please add to the discussion.

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