Creative Leadership

Do You Really Know the WHY That Drives Your Organization?

Of course, most leaders of churches, ministries, and nonprofits would answer the question of “why” with something about “mission.” It sounds noble, and hopefully it would be true in every case. But sadly, it isn’t. I can name organization after organization whose driving purpose isn’t about their “mission” it’s about “self-preservation.”

When organizations forget their WHY they lose their reason to exist.

For instance, our team was hired by one ministry organization years ago that was founded on evangelism. At the beginning, questions like “How do we reach more people? or “How can we share the gospel more effectively?” dominated meetings. But years later, those questions were forgotten in favor of questions like:

How do we raise more money?
What issues are most popular these days?
How can we piggy-back on a big cause like human trafficking, abortion, feeding the hungry, or something else to get more donors?

In other words, they had shifted their focus from outward to inward. It wasn’t about making an impact in the world, now, it was about keeping a job. They just wanted to keep the machine going to keep everyone employed.

Another media ministry invited me to a strategy meeting, and the first question they asked me was, “How many minutes into our TV program can we start asking for money?”

I graciously excused myself from the meeting.

Losing their “why” means that one month these organizations will do fundraising that positions them as anti-abortion, the next month, hurricane relief, the next month, human trafficking, and so on. After a few years of this, they completely lose their brand identity because they confuse donors and supporters about who they actually are and why they need to exist.

The truth is, every organization needs to raise money because everyone needs the funds to operate. But when your primary purpose shifts from your mission to your maintenance, then something is wrong.

Don’t abuse your donor’s money. No matter how challenging your budget may be, when you shift your focus away why you exist, then it’s time to either re-think your purpose, or close the doors completely.

Because donors are interested in mission, not helping you keep your job.

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  1. Great post… highly inspiring, educating and motivating. This is the reason I appointment an MD/CEO to run the affairs of my Foundation, while I focus on the Evangelistic ministry, which in direct response to what the Apostles in Acts6:2-4.This is a good reminder which I will often share with my staff and volunteers.
    Very much appreciated Phil.

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