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Knowing Your Nonprofit's Purpose

Purpose Creates Engagement, Connection and Alignment With Your Nonprofit's Mission.

Purpose (n) is defined as “the reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists”.
Purpose (v) is defined as “have one’s intention or objective.”

When you know and show your purpose you share your intent. Purpose connects us to our individual values, helping to strengthen our engagement and build relationships with others. For a team, purpose can enhance drive, commitment and dedication—or offer a goal or target for achievement. Organizationally, purpose can drive engagement as employees can feel inspired and energized by organizational purpose. In this way, purpose can provide a vision or path through uncertainty.

Nonprofits have always had a clear and strong purpose: to serve others. It is, however, valuable for each nonprofit to identify a purpose all its own. Even project teams should define their purpose, especially those associated with a change. As change occurs, at any level, purpose provides direction, rationale and even guidance.

In The Big Reset Playbook: What’s Working Now, Josh Bersin notes, “in times of uncertainty and ambiguity, people are desperate for a sense of purpose.” Whether we realize it or not, when we don’t have organizational purpose to guide us, we fill that space with a purpose we choose for ourselves. This can cause people to move in different directions, create confusion or waste time and resources.

Whether you are leading an organization, team or project, I challenge you define or reflect on your purpose. The following questions can be used to engage in discussion with your leadership, department or project team to establish or reinforce your purpose.

  • What is our intent for the future?
  • What are we working toward?
  • How do we demonstrate our nonprofit's values?
  • Do we communicate the value and role of employees in achieving our overall mission and vision? How?
  • In what ways do we invest in the development of our staff in ways that align with our mission?
  • How do we create connection between what people value and what they do?
  • In what way do we offer opportunities to collaborate throughout the team/organization?
  • How do we communicate purpose with others
Remember, with purpose, it is less about the what and more about the why. On your own, reflect on purpose, what that means to you and how you see the purpose of your role. As a leader or peer, reflect on how your actions, decisions and interactions prioritize purpose to offer direction, promote intention and foster engagement of others.

 Be Talented  TalentED Mark 


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