More Than a Mission: Why Nonprofits Need a "Why"

Written by

BCG BrightHouse

Sep 11, 2014 · 2-minute read

Nonprofits are mission-driven organizations. Why in the world would they need purpose? We see it over and over again. Nonprofits are often very articulate about their what – their mission – and they can talk at length about their programs and initiatives. Many even have a well-defined where – their vision. But few have articulated why they exist – their purpose.

In the absence of a “why”, these nonprofits leave too much on the table. The ability to tell their story, a critical tool for engaging stakeholders and, specifically, donors. A source of inspiration for employees, giving them shared reason to get up in the morning. Clear guardrails for everything the organization does. Purpose galvanizes advocacy and generates alignment – things every nonprofit needs.

Over the last year, BrightHouse has collaborated with Atlanta’s East Lake Foundation and its sister organization, Purpose Built Communities. They work with neighborhoods stuck in intractable cycles of intergenerational poverty, to break that cycle and create communities rich with opportunity. Already deeply purpose-driven organizations, we helped them distill, define, and activate that purpose: Possibility Takes Place.
The work has given East Lake and Purpose Built Communities a set of core ideas that underlie all communications for the organizations. We brought it to life in print and on screen. And we harnessed their purpose to reinvigorate corporate partnerships, including the PGA TOUR Championship by Coca-Cola.

So what does all this mean? The East Lake Foundation and Purpose Built Communities can imagine a world without poverty. And they’re making that vision a reality. It’s a story we should all know, a story we could all take part in. Purpose is helping to make that vision a reality.

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