Wave your WHY flag

Why does your organization exist? It’s a simple question, but few organizations do a good job of answering it. You talk about what you do, and how you do it. But the factor that separates most highly-successful, mission-driven organizations from the rest is clear articulation of their WHY.

WHY tells your audiences not only what you do but why they should care. And according to Simon Sinek, it’s what separates Martin Luther King, Jr. and Apple from their contemporaries — their ability to lead with their WHY has drawn interest and engagement for decades.  It set them apart as innovators.

As nonprofit leaders and communicators, it’s your job to motivate teams and engage supporters. It should all start with WHY. Think of your WHY as a flag you fly that makes it easy for people who also believe what you believe (a.k.a. your believers) to find you, connect with you, and engage with you. Wave your flag proudly, my friends!

An organization that does a good job of waving their WHY flag is the Charleston Park Conservancy, which cares for Charleston, South Carolina’s over 120 parks.  There it is, right on their homepage. Loud and proud.

Why do they lead with their WHY? Because they believe caring for parks will improve the city’s “health, community and economic strength”.  Now you might not be a big park person – I mean sometimes there are unruly dogs and delinquent, smoking teenagers there. But who could argue with improving the health, community and economic strength of your city? Most people wouldn’t say “Oh, economic strength? No thank you. Not for me!” And if you were the Charleston Park Conservancy and someone did say that, you’d be at peace knowing they were an atheist and you get back to the business of connecting with your believers.

You understand why you do what you do. Sharing it with others –leading with your WHY – gives potential supporters something to say yes to.

 

 

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Comments

  1. Terrifically spot-on post, Erica. Feels like a birthday present. (I’m 39 years young today!) I’m working with a client on this very question.

    I’ve been singing the praises of your blog a lot lately. This one makes me want to sing louder. 🙂

    • Erica Mills says:

      Happy (late) birthday, Liz! And thank you for your very kind words about Claxon’s blog. Muchly appreciative!

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