What do you do when an institution or an organization is in crisis and is on the verge of ceasing to exist? How long do you keep bailing water before deciding to abandon, or go down with, the ship?
I was recently a part of a conversation related to a last minute plan to save an organization from impending collapse and failure.
Much of the talk was about the process that would move forward to “save” the organization. First, a stopgap measure would be put in place, then a task force would spend a year developing a new vision for the organization and once that was decided upon, a mission detailing how that vision would be accomplished would be developed. With those things in place, fundraising would be next, along with the hiring of new executive director.
This sounded like a valiant effort to save the organization but there was just one problem I couldn’t get past. Was the plan to reorganize and get supporters and stakeholders excited about a new vision that had been put forth by its members and/or leaders? Or was the plan to create a new vision in order to save the organization? In other words, was this rescue plan based on renewing the current vision or a new vision that had been cast, or was it about preserving the organization for its own sake?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about resurrecting failing organizations and institutions, even against impossible odds. However, I’m only interested in doing so if the vision is in-tact or if there is a leader, supporter, or stakeholder that is passionate about a modified or new vision.
Sure, you can run a business or an organization without a vision, but it’s not going to last very long. You have to have a strong vision that tells the world the impact you are seeking to make.
Take for example the non-profit “Give Directly.” They are an innovative organization that gives money to people in Kenya, who are living in poverty. They’ve stirred a bit of controversy because the traditional approach for giving aid to those in African nations is for non-profit organizations to collect donations then provide training, or buy or build things for those in need, under the old philosophy of “give a man a fish, he’ll eat for a day, but teach a man to fish he’ll eat for a lifetime.” But Give Directly is showing that giving folks actual money instead of a cow or a new house, and letting them decide what to do with it, may be a better approach. But they couldn’t do this without a strong vision and people who are passionate about that vision. On their website they state:
“Our vision is a world in which direct giving to the poor is (a) a significant share of overall giving, and (b) the benchmark donors use to evaluate giving to organizations.”
Everything about their mission, then is aimed at making that vision a reality.
It’s bold, it’s compelling, it’s specific, and it’s an inspiring vision. It seeks to fulfill a need and a purpose. It seeks to positively impact the lives of others.
At this meeting I kept asking what this dying organization’s vision was. I was begging folks to inspire me with something, anything, that would help me get behind this final push. But no one could give an answer other than “we have to save the organization.” No one could tell me why the work was important, how their lives, and how the lives of others had been impacted.
Is your organization worth saving?
If you can talk about the vision, without hesitating, it’s an endeavor worth taking on.
If you have to think about it, then maybe it’s time to grieve, celebrate the work that has been done, and move on.
What’s your church’s or organization’s vision? How does accomplishing your mission help live into that vision?
This article was originally posted at The Blue Yarn
Photo Credit: DaveLawler via Compfight cc