#22/100 Things we’ve learned: Vision Matters

Vision matters. It inspires. It enables. It overcomes. It achieves.

Your founders most likely shared powerful dreams…

They saw people who were hungry and set out to feed them.

They saw people stricken by disease and were compelled to heal them.

They were outraged by the burning river and resolved to make it clean.

They saw a community without spirit and promised it art and music.

They saw their heritage at risk and vowed to preserve it.

Imagine those founding days of your organization.

Can you picture the founders, conspiring around a kitchen table? Can you hear them talking? Passionate, outraged, inspirational? Can you see them working tirelessly, day and night, in service to their cause, despite overwhelming obstacles, hungry to make a difference?

If you polled your board members today and asked why they serve, would they echo the passion of your founding vision?

Or would they describe their purpose in more mundane terms — attending meetings, monitoring finances, raising money, creating policies, supervising the CEO?

While these routine tasks are important components of the Board’s duties, they only have value as they enable the means to achieving the greater vision.

It’s not enough to outfit and command a tight little ship. That ship has to deliver its passengers to their desired destination or you’ve failed your mission.

Ultimately, your performance as a board isn’t judged by the health of your balance sheet, or the sparkle of your facility, no matter how important these may be.

The real measure is the difference you make in the lives you save, the natural resources you protect, the beauty you create, or the spiritual comfort you provide.

Whether you describe it as a vision, a mission, or just your promise to your community, achieving that vision is what truly matters.


Adapted from the opening chapter of Gayle’s book How Are We Doing? A 1 Hour Guide to Evaluating Your Performance as a Nonprofit Board

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