WHAT’S YOUR “WHY”?
There’s a “why” behind the work of every nonprofit, but can you remember (or repeat) it? Chances are… not so much. Brewer Direct’s Creative Director, Matt Sommer, challenges you to get to the heart of your “why” to create the most compelling vision statement possible.
From Matt Sommer, VP/Creative Director, Brewer Direct
When it comes to creating and communicating vision, organizations often spend hours… days… months (hopefully not years!) coming up with a well-crafted, thoughtful vision statement that attempts to cover all the bases of their work.
A totally fictional example:
“Organization Name” is an economic and community development organization for meeting emergency relief needs that builds stronger neighborhoods and economies. We believe that our efforts are an important community service that connect people in need with the information, services and programs they need to make ends meet and help get back on their feet.
And here’s a typical response from your staff and your supporters:
That’s right. Most nonprofit vision statements are a snooze… too long and full of jargon or extraneous details that practically beg your brain to stop reading.
Sadly, the example above is typical of many real organizations. It’s a shame because the work of the organization is inspirational: helping to meet emergency needs in the local community. What a great cause everyone can get behind!
The problem is that their vision as written is so dense and wooden that it has no resonance with either their employees or the public. Statistics say that 9 out of 10 staff members can’t repeat their organization’s vision statement. In fact, I’ve worked with companies where even the President or CEO couldn’t remember it!
If you can’t remember or repeat, then your supporters won’t remember or repeat, either. That’s a big WUH-OH. Because your team, leadership and supporters definitely won’t be inspired by a vision that has no resonance.
So what’s at the heart of a truly inspiring organizational vision?
The most powerful vision is born out of value. You could also call it a motivating (or even heartfelt) purpose.
Forbes studied what it meant to team members to know their organization has a meaningful vision. The results are not surprising. Employees who feel there’s a motivational purpose behind their work for the organization are far more engaged in their work. On average, 68% who find their organization’s vision meaningful are engaged with their work vs. just doing the bare minimum to get a paycheck.
Having a vision isn’t just crucial for motivating your team and leadership. It’s also crucial for motivating your community and especially your supporters to engage with your cause. According to the World Value Index, an organization with a clear, defined vision “may have just as much or actually more power to mobilize people than some of the biggest for-profit brands that spend billions of dollars in marketing.”
Which brands inspire their consumers most with their vision? According to the World Value Index report, St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital is first, followed by the Red Cross, Salvation Army, Goodwill and Habitat for Humanity. Amazon is the only for-profit company in the top 10.
It may be surprising that Facebook is number 57 and Apple is number 68, but while these brands may be valuable in terms of money, they may be lacking in how the public perceives their value – that is, the clarity of the hidden “why” behind their business.
So let’s talk about how you begin crafting that value proposition – inspiring people with the “why” of what you do – at your own organization. And we’re not just talking your team members, but your supporters and community too.
Here’s my #1 tip for creating a vision statement: Keep it simple, short and memorable.
You see? It doesn’t take much to pack a punch!
Effective vision statements create a story or image for their audiences. It shares the hidden “why” behind what they do and pairs it with the “what/how” behind the “why” of that organization’s work.
If we look closely at the charity: water statement, the “why” behind everything is that clean drinking water is critical to live. Everyone knows that. Then what’s the “what”? People in developing countries don’t have clean drinking water. So charity: water is an organization that brings it to them.
Your “why” and “what/how” must be motivational and full of value. Donors, volunteers, your community, your team members and even your leadership are looking for meaning in their lives – and a way to live out the values they hold most dear. They want to be the solution to a challenge or a problem. They want to create change by getting involved.
The best vision statements fan the flames of that fire. Above anything else, upon reading it, someone should feel motivated to partner with you, specifically to solve the issue or challenge that your work addresses. So inspire them to do just that!
The reality is that most of us could do more to improve our vision and also the way we communicate our vision.
Bottom line: Do your supporters, team members, leadership and community not only remember your vision, but does it draw out the hidden “why” and motivating purpose that inspire true engagement?
At the end of the day, your vision shouldn’t be some lofty platitude… but rather tap a wellspring of purpose and possibility that already resides within the very fiber of your organization.
A vision for December, you ask? We’ve got you covered with a weekly planning calendar for your most important fundraising month of the year. Download your free calendar now!
Does your organization need expert guidance in brainstorming (or re-brainstorming) a vision that’s memorable, repeatable and most of all, is clear about the “why” of your organization? Matt is ready to help! Get in touch with Brewer Direct’s Creative Director Matt Sommer by clicking here.
Is your vision statement inspiring or inhibiting your vision? Share yours with us @brewerdirect!