If you are an employee, board member, volunteer or supporter of a cause-based organisation, stop and think for a moment about whether the Cause is receiving the reverence it deserves.
The Cause is why your organisation exists. It is why you and your colleagues joined and support the organisation. The reason the organisation receives tax breaks from all levels of Government. Actually, its importance can’t be overstated.
Yet despite its omnipotent place in cause-based organisations the Cause often receives lip service or is assigned to third fiddle in the band. So why does this happen and what can we do about it?
Perhaps the Mission Statement Needs an Overhaul
This statement should be a catalyst for everything you do. It confines the scope and helps to keep the organisation focused. When did the organisation last visit the Mission Statement and seriously question…..
- Is it still relevant in today’s environment?
- Is the language outdated?
- Does is succinctly describe what we do, how we serve humanity and where we do it.
- Has there been Cause Creep? For example, our cause may be to serve youth between 14 – 18 years of age so why are we also providing Aged Care services? Does the Mission Statement need to be changed to say this or should some programs be handed to another Provider?
Maybe Reality Is Not Matching Rhetoric?
Is everyone in the organisation “walking the talk”. Does every program and policy exude the cause? If not we suggest you visit our “Touchstones”. If one or more of these is out of whack, invariably you will find that this problem area is distracting the organisation from the Cause.
Today we seem to live and work in a constant blizzard of distractions. This encourages us to develop short attention spans and multi-tasking skills. The result of this is that all tasks maybe completed reasonably well (if you are lucky), all tasks will not be completed excellently. Unfortunately, today’s pressing task, such as dealing with a complaint from a client becomes king and longer term goals like increasing the literacy levels of 7-year-old students in our care by 20 points becomes secondary. So how do we deal with this reality?
Sorry, but the solution needs to come from the top both in terms of example and creating a cause nurturing environment.
Leaders need to live and breathe the Cause. It must dominate discussions and decisions need to be evaluated against impact positively or negatively on the Cause. The number of times I have sat through Board meetings when the Cause was not mentioned once is appalling!
Communications with staff and volunteers should always contain Causes references. “We are making these changes so we can accommodate 10 more clients” for example.
Also Leaders are charged with creating an environment where the focus is on true social impact and distractions are minimised. This again involves a number of our Touchstones such as having a clear vision, financial empowerment, having a well-oiled infrastructure, using technology as an enabler and effectively using marketing to enhance the Cause.
Sounds difficult? Well perhaps at first. Certainly this approach requires discipline, but once it becomes a habit you, and more importantly the people in receipt of your service, will reap the rewards.
How does your organisation stay focused on its Cause? Please share your experiences.
Author: Chris Gandy, Director, Cause and Effective.
Cause and Effective provides consultation and coaching to cause-based organisations seeking to move from good to great and stay there.
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