Updated: Oct 27
To know me is to know I am a Simon Sinek fan…and let’s remember that “fan” is short for fanatic!
Simon has written five books. In 2009 he wrote Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action. I follow him on social media, watch his posted videos, and find a reason to quote him quite often.
Very few people can clearly articulate WHY they do WHAT they do.
By WHY I mean your purpose, cause, or belief - WHY do you get out of bed every morning? And WHY should anyone care?
Have you ever heard a quote that is more made for the world of nonprofit organizations, their teams, and even their volunteers?
Most fundraisers can talk endlessly about the details of their organization.
How it started;
How it grew;
What it needs next and how much that will cost;
When the next grant application, acknowledgment letter, or special event falls on the calendar; and
How the organization hopes to change the community or the world.
But there has got to be more for each of the individuals engaged in the work of a nonprofit organization.
There are nearly two million nonprofit organizations in the US and 501(c)(3) charities.
That leaves a lot of stories that need to be told by fundraisers…and it’s critical to the success of the various missions that staff and volunteers tell those stories with ownership and understanding. We need to find a way to make the story of our mission our own.
Let me be clear; I am not telling you to only work for organizations that you already support.
I am telling you to look for YOUR WHY, no matter where you work.
Some organizations open doors to help you find your why by having really experienced their work.
When I first started at the American Red Cross, I went on a late-night fire call. There I met a woman whose apartment had been flooded when the first responders put out a fire in an apartment upstairs.
I walked in to meet her and (along with one of our amazing volunteers) assessed what services she needed (hotel, food). She and her teenage son were sweeping out the water with a broom…not that productive. She did not know what else to do. She shared a lot about her life and how she survives as a single mom. She told me how she worked two jobs and how her son would go to college. On that Saturday night, I met a fantastic woman and saw the mission IRL. It was an evening I would never forget.
In some organizations, fate points at you, and in a moment, you are thrust into understanding your why.
I was just into my job at the Bone Marrow Registry when they received a call from a patient who was looking for a lifesaving match. His name was Manny Valdez, and due to his genetic heritage, finding a lifesaving match would be very hard.
Since I worked at an international registry, it was a huge surprise to discover that Manny lived just a mile from my home.
In the next months, I would meet and embrace Manny and his family and work harder than I ever had to help increase registrations in the hope of finding a match. I was helped by a local NBC reporter who had lost her sister to leukemia. I think her last story on Manny will help you see why he and his family and the goal to help diverse communities find their lifesaving match became my mission and truly my why.
Why does having a why change the story you tell?
Good question-easy answer.
By adding your why to the story of your organization, you inject your personal passion into your storytelling.
It changes from a story about people being helped—and becomes a story about the people you help. Your story leaves room for others to discover how supporting your mission can change their life too.
In case you were wondering—My Team Kat & Mouse why came to me after watching the staff turnover in the nonprofit world. I was heartbroken hearing Managers and Directors telling new hires what they had done wrong before they had told them how to do it right. I can’t say I did not have flashbacks to my younger years. In fact, I told that story in my very first Blog for TKM.
Almost two years later and my whys have grown to a full-on list based on the partnerships we have created with our clients.
If you don’t have a why–why not?
Drop me an email – let’s chat.
Finding your why will enhance how you tell your mission story and is guaranteed to grow your fundraising.
For more information on Team Kat & Mouse, take a look at our website…Why–Why not!