Don't Give Up in Doing Good
I had the privilege of speaking this week at a youth workers conference for the Salvation Army, an organization/church that has been around since 1865. Yes, the organization will turn 145 years old this year! I was thoroughly impressed by their legacy and ability to continue their work throughout all of the many changes in history.
In addition, it was encouraging to see a diverse movement of people working together to do good in the world. By far, it was one of the most culturally diverse gatherings I had ever been to. Loved it!
I think that those of us working in areas of compassion and justice can all appreciate what it takes to persevere in doing good. Although bringing care and relief for those in need may be thoroughly fulfilling, the work itself can often be overwhelming, draining, and even discouraging. Like any other good thing in life, it takes a lot of work.
In light of this reality, I’d like to offer the following insights into how we can persevere in doing good:
Don’t forget who you are and what you’re about.
- As individuals and organizations grow, it is quite possible to lose focus. It is imperative that individuals and organizations remember what they’re about. This means that we need to know what we’re NOT about. This is not to say that expansion or change in expression shouldn’t occur. In fact, we need to adapt to our ever-changing context. Nevertheless, in doing so, we must still keep remember who we are and what we’re about.
- The truth is that no one person or organization can solve it all. That’s impossible! Get over it. You alone will not change the entire world. It may be worthwhile to ask: What do we uniquely bring to table? What role do we play relative to all the others involved? Does our existence matter? How does it matter?
You are secondary to the “cause”.
- The ultimate goal in doing good is NOT to make a name for ourselves. The “cause” must be greater than any one personality (whether individually or as an organization). There is a fine line between healthy brand development to help a cause and self-centered promotion. Humanity (i.e., us) has the propensity to be ego-centric and narcissistic. Unfortunately, this can become a huge obstacles to individuals and organizations working together.
- Don’t view other organizations as your competition. This will lead to destructive behavior and ultimately hurt the people you’re trying to help. I’ve seen too many organizations severe themselves from great potential because of their insecurities.
Network, Platform, and Support
- Commit yourself to partner with others, even with those that you may not see eye-to-eye. Consider ways to leverage each other’s strengths for the greater good. The fact is that no two organizations will completely agree on everything. If so, they would be the same organization. It’s okay to disagree but it’s not okay not to even consider networking together.
- One way to kill competition is to platform other individuals and organizations. Do it! Do it regularly. It may feel counter intuitive for many, but in the end, it usually leads to greater good. Talk about other groups and highlight some of their great work. In due time, the response will become reciprocal towards your work.
- Support the works of others. Yes, this sounds crazy in light of our current economic crisis, but still do it. Be generous to others as you desire them to be generous towards you. Generosity multiplies impact and it’s funny how generosity leads to opportunities unforeseen.
I hope that all great organizations survive for many years like the Salvation Army. Even though some may not resonate with nor understand the language, structure, and look of organizations like the Salvation Army. They are still around impacting millions around the world because they know who they are (and who they’re not) and have committed to working with other organizations for the greater good. We can still learn much from organizations that are proven!
Charles Lee is the founder of Ideation, a consultancy that specializes in branding, marketing, social media, and event development. He is also a founding member of JustOne, a NPO committed to addressing issues of poverty, orphans, and slavery. In addition, Charles leads New Hope, a faith community in the Los Angeles area, and is the creator of grassroots efforts including the Idea Camp, Ideation Conference, and the Freeze Project. Charles regularly speaks around the country on topics such as creativity, innovation, leadership, social media, community development and compassionate justice.