This is an issue that I believe impacts all FOR IMPACT ORGANIZATIONS. We’re caught up in an endowment arms race. We’re communicating that “We need ENDOWMENT now to build and preserve ENDOWMENT for future generations.”
STARTSAVING, CHANGING, IMPACTING LIVES!
ENDOWMENT, in and of itself, is NOT the goal! The goal is and always should be around Saving Lives, Changing Lives, Impacting Lives, etc.
And if that doesn’t get your attention, how about: No More Cash For Endowment.
Cash is a very, very expensive and difficult way to increase endowment. Very few investors want to give you their money so that you can invest it, generate an average 5% return, and then use that interest to fund an important priority. Plus, many of these investors are making five-year commitments/payments and would have to ‘wait’ to see the results and actual use of the funds.
Here’s a pretty simple way to look at it: a 5% IMPACT vs. a 100% IMPACT.
Money to endowment (5%)
Money to fund people, programs, and places that help deliver your IMPACT – now (100%)
Note: As a serial entrepreneur and someone who works with a lot of business and social entrepreneurs, I would ask this question: Would a great business or business model (one that is growing and scaling their IMPACT) take revenue (cash), put it in the bank, and then try to fund their growth from their INTEREST INCOME?!!!
What every truly successful entrepreneur would do: They’d go to a bank, or to angels, or to the market, and BORROW MONEY (not put money in) so that they can LEVERAGE every dollar in order to GROW and SCALE their IMPACT RIGHT NOW!
BE FOR IMPACT is a 50,000’ conversation, an imperative, and a challenge.
Finding PURPOSE is a journey. BEING FOR IMPACT is a decision.
We have learned that you either get BE FOR IMPACT right away or you don’t. If you do, I hope the following helps you decide to ACT on this challenge:
BE FOR IMPACT is the ‘other Golden Rule’. You can think about BEING FOR IMPACT in the same way that you think about ‘DO UNTO OTHERS’.
BE FOR IMPACT is all about the WHY. (Why do we exist? To have an impact. To leave a legacy. Why do we get up in the morning? Why do we go to work? Why, why, why?)
BE FOR IMPACT is the holy grail, so to speak, of organizations, businesses and people. Any truly great or successful company or Third Sector organization is driven by their IMPACT.
BE FOR IMPACT, again, is a conscious decision, an intent. It’s a commitment that just takes a moment to make and a lifetime to deliver.
BE FOR IMPACT is timeless. Andrew Carnegie. Napoleon Hill. Earl Nightingale. Og Mandino. Rick Warren. And I’m sure somewhere Aristotle and Plato, using some Greek words, laid out the idea of IMPACT.
BE FOR IMPACT is about a legacy. The people who have left the largest legacies have always had the greatest impact. (They’re not the ones who left the most money.)
*THE DASH. My good friend and brilliant thinker, Jim Mahoney, is founder and president of Battelle for Kids. Jim says the DASH is your impact. On your tombstone, the DASH between the year you were born and the year you died symbolizes your IMPACT/ LEGACY. You have the opportunity to write/define your DASH. (I call this your EIA, your Eulogy In Advance.)
BE FOR IMPACT is about value and service and purpose and meaning. Oprah Winfrey recently delivered a commencement speech to Harvard graduates with this message:
After interviewing over 35,000 people, there is a universal truth: Every one of those people craved affirmation.
In her words, it was always, “How did I do?” It doesn’t take much to change that to “Did what I do matter?” “Did it make a difference?” “Have I had an impact?”
BE FOR IMPACT can also be a job description! Every organization is looking for people who want to wake up in the morning and have an impact. Provide value.
*What if this was part of the Ideal Profile you were seeking to any important role in your company, your organization or your team. “Do you want to have an IMPACT?” “What kind of IMPACT do you want to have?”
BE FOR IMPACT would seem to be a huge part of the ‘work-life balance’ conundrum. Certainly, the question of IMPACT transcends work, career, and money. It represents IMPACT on your family, your friends, your community and much more.
BE FOR IMPACT is the way you can change THE world or change YOUR world. It’s a great way to “make a dent in the universe” as Steve Jobs used to say. Gandhi added, “BE the change you want to see in the world.”
We are human BEings, not human DOing.
In 1623, Billy Shakespeare wrote the opening soliloquy in Hamlet, questioning the whole meaning of life. “To BE or not to BE … that is the question.”
In the 21st century, that might be asked in a different way. “To BE FOR IMPACT or not to BE FOR IMPACT … that is the question.”
Why do we define ourselves in the negative? It makes no sense.
Does your organization exist to not make any money?
Or, does it exist to save lives, change lives and impact lives?
Anyone who has barely even touched the surface of our For Impact thinking knows that right under our Controlling Insight of IMPACT drives INCOME (not the other way around) is the idea that this is NOT about not-for-profit, 501c3, tax-exempt, charity, etc.
We are the only industry/sector which defines itself in the NEGATIVE! (It is the equivalent of Starbucks calling themselves a ‘Not-tea’ company or Southwest saying “We’re in the ‘not-train’ business.”)
Stop defining yourself by what you’re not.
Start defining yourself by what you are for: IMPACT.
More than a shift in language we need a different way of being.
This shift is about attitude. It’s about your purpose (the WHY). It’s about re-thinking an entire sector (or two).
In 1950, Earl Nightingale wrote The Strangest Secret. The secret (common to many beliefs, all sectors, and all definitions of success): We become what we think about.
What becomes of us when our entire thinking is about ‘nonprofit’?
What if we think, instead, about changing the world?
The For Impact Movement
We’ve been sharing this message for the last 15 years and living it for longer than that. The past few years has given rise to an incredible conversation around this VOCABULARY and CHANGE.
Every organization has to abandon almost everything it does.
No ‘some’ orgs… need to ‘tweak’… some ‘things.’ What if you abandoned:
Direct mail. Lengthy Case Statements. Feasibility Studies. Volunteer Solicitations. Survival Pitches. Small thinking. Cultivation. Special events (that aren’t special and don’t raise money). Letters that read “We are a 501(c)3” (who cares?). Committee Reports. Etc.