What’s your big idea for the community your organization is serving? Do you have one? Can you explain it in 30 seconds or less? If you asked each of your board members what they thought it was, would they say something similar? Is it something you’re passionate about? When you talk about what you do does your heart race just a little bit faster? Are you eager to see the community you serve change as a result of what you do?
If you answered yes, congratulations! You’re well on your way to engaging people to come alongside you in your mission. You have a clear message that the right people will identify with and want to be a part of making it become a reality.
But maybe you answered a tentative ‘maybe’ instead. You know what you do is important, but perhaps you’ve gotten so immersed in the organization that you’ve forgotten that there are things you’re taking for granted that ‘everyone knows.’ Or maybe you have several different programs running, so it’s difficult to narrow it down to 30 seconds or less. So when someone asks you what your organization does, you ramble on until their eyes glaze over or you change the subject.
I want to challenge you to first get clear on what you think the central ‘big idea’ is for your organization. Is it eliminating hunger? Is it eliminating a stigma? Is it providing ex-offenders a second chance? Is it to build understanding between cultures? Trying to define the root issue is a great board activity. Aim to communicate it in as few words as possible (seven or less is what I try to help organizations get to).
Then define why accomplishing that big idea is important for the community at large. Try to get rid of jargon and assumptions. Provide the background information about your cause so that other people, outside your organization, can understand it.
Next, find a story that illustrates all of this. And make sure to include what it is that your organization does that makes a difference in the lives of those you serve. A single story will have much more impact than multiple stories or going overboard on statistics.
So many organizations are content with business as usual. Instead of looking at what it would take to implement a community-wide change, we look at what we did the prior year and try to grow it just a little. Together, let’s aim to change our world by changing our communities.
I look forward to hearing how you expand your vision!