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While it may seem a completely contrary and heartless thing to say, I think it’s time we acknowledged, and accepted, that just because you are working for the greater good, does not mean you are doing good work!

… the currency of ‘being the good guy’ is simply not enough.

All too often I have come across people, and organisations, that think because their intentions are good, they should be supported.

“Who wouldn’t want to support an organisation that is trying to help someone at risk?” they argue.

“Who doesn’t melt just a little when confronted by images of people or animals or places facing threatening situations? Who doesn’t believe that fundamentally the world is made beautiful by the development of art or the production of beautiful music?”

The reality in today’s society though, where there are literally hundreds of thousands of not-for-profits (NFPs) and charities around the world, is that the currency of “being the good guy” is simply not enough.

In my opinion, good works only count is they are delivering a tangible outcome and are ultimately seeking to provide the solution to the problem at its very core.

Rather than doing this (ultimately solving a problem) … we seem to live in a society that never quite fixes one thing before it becomes distracted by another.

Funding programs that barely touch the side of an issue because it is “the issue of the moment” is, in my opinion, a waste of time. I’d suggest its better to stay focused on ‘what you are already working on, fix it, and then move on! In this way you get results and provide the opportunity to return, and rally people, with a concerted and focused, effort to the new challenge.

Rather than doing this though we seem to live in a society that never quite fixes one thing before it becomes distracted by another. Ultimately, by failing to solve a problem at its core, we perpetuate a need for NFPs and charities to be forever fundraising.

 Just like any good business decision the question you need to answer is will my work  deliver a positive, tangible outcome – will I get a result.

A case in point: some time ago I spoke as part of a NFP CEO panel addressing major  clients of a well-known bank. To each side of me there was a CEO from a significantly older and larger charity with infinitely more resources than I had access to at the time.

During our discussion I asked them if they had a clear idea of how the problems they were tackling could be solved and, if yes, did they know how much that would cost them?

Both CEOs answered in the affirmative and proceeded to talk to the gathering about their needs.

I suggested then that, given this, wouldn’t it be great if every other charity stopped fundraising and “get out of their way” so they could raise what they needed to fix their problem. The quid-pro-quo for what I was offering though was , once the money that these existing, older charities needed was raised and their problem was fixed, they would no longer fundraise. I thought it sounded reasonable?

Perhaps not surprisingly in hindsight, both CEOs said they would not be able to make that commitment – not because they were worried about not having the money (remember the preface of my offer was they had all they could need) but because they were worried people would forget and disassociate from their brand…. seriously!

 In western society we get so hung up on “idea ownership” … there would be much to be gained by our society looking more to the east for guidance (as) … an eastern philosophy doesn’t worry about whose idea it was but rather recognises the fact that the idea would never have been possible without someone else’s prior thoughts and ultimately their idea will only be a step for someone else.

By not just solving the problem, at its core, not only do we perpetuate the need for constant fundraising, we also create the space for disenchanted people to re-invent a wheel that someone else is already turning. Wouldn’t it make more sense to work with what we have?

Muddying the waters by establishing something that competes with that which already exists simply takes the community, and those you love, further from the outcome – this is simply irresponsible.

Instead, get involved with those that are already doing – add your amazing thoughts and ideas to their mix.

In western society we get hung up on “idea ownership”- it flows for us that if it was “my” idea then I am really clever and deserve accolades.

There would be much to be gained by looking to the east for guidance in this area. I’m no expert but my understanding is that an eastern philosophy doesn’t worry about whose idea it was as they recognise the idea would never have been possible without someone else’s prior thoughts and, ultimately, their idea will only be a step for someone else.

We live in an era where more and more pressure is being placed on NFPs and charities to be there for people when the system fails. With horrendous rates of violence within our community, apathy and neglect running riot, it is simply not good enough to say that just because you want to do good work you deserve support.

Just like any good business decision the question you need to answer is will my work  deliver a positive, tangible outcome – will I get a result.

Yours in not settling,

Kylea x

 

 

 

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