When Giving Matters Answer Two Questions

by | Jan 13, 2016

Giving matters, so what’s the most important question you should answer? Your answer to WHY is important.

Simon Sinek, author of the bestseller, Start With Why, has turned that simple, three letter word into a very deep well. He started digging the well with a sharp focus on business and broadened it to include community and the importance of trust in his recent book, Leaders Eat Last.

I believe his work is transferable to philanthropy and would love to have a conversation with him on that very subject. Here’s why.

Viewed more than 17 million times, Simon Sinek’s now famous TED talk started a personal journey that began with understanding why the best leaders are able to articulate the why of what they do and led to a more recent question, “how do we know who to trust?”

That’s a key question for any donor when giving matters and they want to make an impact with their gift – how do we know who and what organization to trust?

According to a 2014 TED Blog, Sinek was busy after his TED inspired popularity making presentations and sought after for business consulting. He began to realize not everyone was going to be his friend or share his passion for the WHY word. And then he had one of those profound experiences that shape who we are and how we think.

While working with the Air Force he found himself in Afghanistan to learn about the work of Airmen. While there they came under attack. Still trying to shake off the deep emotions wrought by the attack he then found himself flying home with his military companion escorts and one flag draped coffin.

The Impact of a Flag Draped Coffin

Doing what Sinek does, he found himself thinking about the why. According to the blog, that experience led Sinek to “form an idea: that a true sense of purpose comes from the opportunity to serve those who serve others. He noted that it’s not just the people who infuse an environment with a spirit of trust, but that the environment itself plays a role.”

There’s a whole lot to unpack in that statement. Ultimately it boils down to: trust is critical.

Sinek is often quoted from his first book, Start with Why. “People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.  And why you do it simply proves what you believe.” If giving were a product you could purchase or order on-line what would you need to understand before you bought it? Your personal WHY is the product. Understand your WHY so that you will own why you give to what you give to.

After you spend time with the WHY question answer “how do we know who to trust?” This may be the most important work you do this year. Start right now thinking about it. Don’t wait until November when the stack of appeal letters is growing taller and the pressure to decide is wearing thin.

When giving matters find your WHY and then find who you can trust. The potential for successful giving grows exponentially with these two answers.


1 Comment

  1. Hebergeur

    What is your charitable succession plan? For many, the answer is that a succession plan is simply a contingency plan that details where your charitable assets go when you are no longer able to manage them. From another perspective, a succession plan is also an opportunity to support future–and in many instances, unforeseen–charitable initiatives.


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