What if our charity disappeared tonight?

June 22, 2018

Presumably, every charity out there has a raison d’ĂȘtre — a reason for being. (And the reason for being is never about raising money — that is merely a means to a greater end). Tom Ahern uses an exercise that examines the raison d’ĂȘtre with stakeholders (staff, volunteers, donors, etc.). He poses the question: Let’s pretend. Let’s pretend our organization and its programs disappeared tonight. Tomorrow, we’re gone. What will the world/the community/individuals regret having lost?

Ahern contends that this is a way to examine your organization from the 20,000 ft. level — to look at the big picture. He further contends that this exercise forces you to look at the organization more as an outsider (which presumably has a greater number of people) than as an insider (a chosen few who are always ‘in the know’).

Think about it from a healthcare perspective (as an example). It is not about keeping the doors of your hospital open or having the latest high tech gadgets for diagnosis. Rather it is about saving lives. Or, look at things through a social service lens. It is not about feeding or sheltering the hungry. It is about ensuring that each member of our society is given the tools to succeed and thrive.

So I know that some of you reading this will say that they are associated with the ABC Foundation, whose sole purpose is to support the works of the ABC Company. Then, isn’t it all about the fundraising? Great question! Glad you asked!

I would suggest you think of the ABC Foundation as an extension of the ABC Company. The Foundation part is just there for some legalities. It is, in essence, an agent of the ABC Company and should have the same goals in their vision.

The other part of this blog that I wanted to touch on is the notion of is my charity really needed? I have touched upon this in past blogs, but I wanted to bring it up again. Do we really need dozens of charities doing the same thing and having the same parallel infrastructures? What is your unique value proposition? Why do you exist?

Food/scotch for thought.