We are not really Charity:Water fanboys. It may look that way given that this is the second post in a row highlighting them in some fashion. Perhaps it seems Charity:Water is able to operate on a plane or in a way that provides few transferable lessons for other nonprofits. Or maybe it is because Charity:Water isn’t an advocacy organization like most we work with so their experience doesn’t provide learning opportunities.
But damn. Their new September campaign (don’t go there yet…haven’t linked to it for a reason) and the context in which we came across it today shouts out as a teachable moment about the power of focus, passion and having a simple call to action.
Earlier today for reasons totally unrelated to this post we were looking at the home pages websites run by some of America’s leading conservation organizations. Great organizations doing vast amounts of positive work around the US and internationally. We know leaders and staff of many of them. Some are current or past clients.
We invite you to click the links below. They will open in new tabs or windows. Check out the homepage of some or all and gather a quick impression of what they’re working on, what’s moving them and their members and what their passion is RIGHT NOW. Go on…
- Natural Resources Defense Council
- The Wilderness Society
- Nature Conservancy
- Sierra Club
- National Wildlife Federation
Checked them out? Great.
Now, head to Charity:Water. Look at what’s there and perhaps watch a video (yeah…you’ll figure out which one). We’ll wait a minute. When you come back we’ll discuss.
So…what do we think? First? What do you think? Why did we ask you to look at some other sites before Charity:Water?
In our opinion, Charity:Water knocks it out of the park with the introduction of their newest campaign on their homepage. Clear and focused. Passionate and compelling. A big vision but simple call to action. Instead of sliders and links to dozens of programs with myriad graphic boxes and colors we see a single face inviting you to watch a video answering a simple question, “What’s Next?”
Why don’t we see more of this from other organizations?
Well, if was easy then everyone would be doing it. But wait, is it hard to be focused and passionate? Yes. Yes it is. Organizations may be bound together on the surface by a single mission (protect the environment; clean America’s water; conserve wilderness) but decades of programs, special funding opportunities, the interests of donors, foundations, board members and staff have combined to produce a wide-ranging set of projects, teams, interests and silos.
Success breeds more calls for help and over the years these organizations have come to work everywhere and do quite a bit of almost everything. The need is great. Everyone wants them to help.
But something for everyone comes at a cost, both internally and externally. Clarity becomes hard to find. It may be possible for a single staff member to describe what they do but can every single staffer, volunteer, board member and donor or member come together and say “right now the organization is working on X” …where X is described the same way each time.
We suspect not. And when you can’t describe the something amazing that your organization does for people then chances are people may not find the organization to be amazing. And that’s unfortunate because this world NEEDS MORE AMAZING in it now that ever before.
More focus. Much more passion. Many more incredible stories. Don’t do it all…just do it very, very well.