Know Your Cause and Lead By It

People want to support causes, and this is more true than ever for the younger generations.  So why do organizations start their planning and review their progress based on their mission?  Mission comes second.

Melody Jordan -Carr of ASAE presented some great information from a book by Sarah Sladek titled The End of Membership as We Know It:  Building the Fortune-Flipping, Must-Have Association of the Next Centruy.  Melody drew readers’ attention to the first chapter titled The Making of a Dominant Association.  (Check ASAE for more info).  A lot of the data and information is based on generational differences.  While the differences may be more exaggerated now, I believe people have always been drawn by causes.

Cause Comes First
Cause drives everything.  Use that.
Addressing a caused inspired the creation of your organization/association, and it has a mission.  Based on a specific mission, a vision can be developed from which a strategic plan is created.  The latter requires action plans to focus activities and plans to goals and objectives.  Cause-mission-vision-strategic plan-action plan.  Listen to this video to learn more about the process.  Cause must come first.



What IS a Cause?
“Educating people” is not a cause.  “Feeding the poor” is not a cause.  Causes are deeper, bolder and more meaningful than that. This interaction helped me convey cause discovery in a very clear way.

“What makes you bang your shoe on the desk?” she asked with a gentle smile.  It was like being wacked between the eyes with a firm pillow—a soft but convincing blow to get my attention.  She was trying to learn more about why I do the things that I do in my business:  fundraising counsel, team development, empowerment through creativity and of creativity, and more.

I had never heard that particular question, making it all the more profound.  I answered and we moved on with a great conversation.

What is your organization’s cause?

Now What Can I Do?
Once you have your cause defined, you can move forward with mission, vision, strategic plan and action plans.  You can now focus, prioritize, systematize, delegate and manage with efficiency and effectiveness much of the work of your organization, that is…getting support for the organization to do the “real” work.  The “real” work can’t be done without support–moral, financial, political, volunteer, etc.–and finding THAT is based on your cause.

This first chapter of my e-doc titled Go First, gives you insights into how to deconstruct and reconstruct a wonderful paragraph from Ben Franklin’s autobiography.  This process, which helps prioritize limited time for nearly unlimited work, helps you involve everyone on your team in an organized way that improves your effectiveness.  The full document includes embedded audio “chats,” but just the first chapter will help you see how critical it is to find and focus on your cause.  Ben starts out with, “My practice is to first go to those who know the cause and believe in it, and ask them to give as generously as possible.”  That alone will change your organization.


Organizations often want their employees and team to be able to recite the mission statement.  You’ll have a stronger team if they can convey the cause.

This entry was posted in Empower Creativity, Leadership, Management, Strategic Planning, Team Development. Bookmark the permalink.