Why Do You Do What You Do?

Why Do You Do What You Do?

As I was working on some articles about story-telling, copywriting for your website and making your direct mail great I found I had to come back to the absolute fundamentals about why we in charities write anything at all.

It is important that everything we write – in fact anything we do – has a clear purpose with a fundamental outcome linked to our mission. And it needs to be measurable too.

Ninety percent of my work is in fundraising and marketing – which is often easier to measure.  Do x instead of y.  Measure: did x raise more net income than y (whether immediate or long term).  For fundraising that is always the ultimate measure.

Where it gets tricky is in charitable outcome.  The purpose of our charity.  The impact. Unfortunately that is not my area of expertise.  It can stretch from quite objective outcomes such as saving the Tasmanian evil from extinction over the next twenty years, to big and subjective outcomes like reducing poverty in Africa.

Despite the challenge of measuring charitable purpose, we do need to make ongoing, measured assessments of why we do things.  Often things we do are done because they always were.

I think absolutely everything we do in charities comes down to: how does this demonstrably help us achieve our charitable purpose / mission?

That can then be broken down into:

  • Demonstrate how this is implementing our charitable purpose or mission, better than a different, known use of time or money that is not being done.
  • Demonstrate how this will raise more funds to be able to implement our charitable purpose and mission better than a different, known potential use of time or money that is not being done.


Every activity costs the charity money or time.  Even volunteer work is work done by volunteers who could be doing something else.  Unless you mission is to help your volunteers themselves, your volunteers’ work must contribute demonstrably to purpose and mission.

Otherwise you are probably wasting your charities’ resources.  We know, as charity workers or volunteers, that these resources are not actually the charity’s.  They are resources we hold in trust on behalf of our donors to help our beneficiaries, that is, delivering our mission.

So when we write or produce anything, we have a serious responsibility to make that time and effort either directly help us achieve our charitable purpose or indirectly, for example through fundraising.

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1Comment
  • Mark Hindle
    Posted at 21:28h, 10 February Reply

    Thank you Sean. Love your posts and their messages. I have shared it and will certainly subscribe to your newsletter. Have a great weekend and will see you in a couple of weeks on the ‘Goldie’.
    M.

    PS: I understand Tasmanians are a little sensitive at times and may not like us saying so but; I do think it is too late to mount a campaign to save the Tasmanian ‘evil’ from extinction. Its already well established. 😉

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