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Why We Do What We Do

Are you lost in the weeds?

A disclaimer: I started this blog last week. I had second thoughts about it. I had read an article in which the author was discussing “why we do what we do.” I found the idea intriguing, but after writing a bit, I wasn’t sure if anyone else would. The next day, I read two more articles in which the authors were discussing “why we do what we do.” Because this was too serendipitous even for me, I wondered if there was a trend shaping in 2024 and if there is, is it a reset?

There is so much swirling around us – a couple of wars that America is tangentially involved in, a border crisis that has been hung out to dry, and a political year that will not be admirable for anyone. Nonprofits are faced with two major issues. The first is a decline in donors of all shapes and sizes. Second is the lack of staff; staff that want to actually do the work.

Nonprofits and the people who work for them really do need to answer the question – why we do what we do?

As individuals, a lot of us try to determine what we want to accomplish each year. Whether it’s eating healthier, taking a trip to Southeast Asia, or buying a new house. 2024 is no different. There are things we would like to realize.

As a nonprofit professional the list will look different for you. You might consider applying for an executive director position, raising five million dollars, or expanding the organization’s outreach and serving 200 more families.

Whether the activities you seek to fulfil are personal or professional, they are your aspirations for the year. These activities are what give you purpose. The purpose is “why you do what you do.”

I spent most of December 2023 and early 2024 wrestling with various scenarios regarding what I wanted to do. Not surprising I came full circle to where I started my journey in 2021. I understood what both Warren Buffet and Steve Jobs declared, “Do What You Love.”

Although it seems very simplistic, my declaration for 2024 was to do just that, do what I love, and make it the best year ever.

As I worked through the process, one of the things I did was revisit my business vision and mission, my aspirations for my work. They were a great reminder of “why I do what I do.”

Why am I meandering through my process? Why am I sharing my experience? Because it is universal. Many people wander out of their lane and get lost in the weeds. That is okay if you eventually find your way out.

Nonprofit organizations are often victims of getting lost in the weeds. I recently had conversations with two executive directors who admitted to mission drift.

Maybe it is a good time for nonprofits to look at why they do what they do.

  • Are your programs and services in alignment with your vision and mission?

  • Does your case for support reflect the current aspirations of the organization?

  • Do you have a clear path forward to reach your fundraising goals?

  • Are you doing what you love?

Because it reflects genuine needs within your community, the work you do is important. It therefore becomes important to evaluate why you do what you do. We are not too deep into 2024. Take the time to be certain that this will be the best year yet for you and the organization of which you are a part.

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