Why Do You Do What You Do?


As I was working on some articles about story-telling, copywriting for your website and making your direct mail great I found I had to come back to the absolute fundamentals about why we in charities write anything at all.

It is important that everything we write – in fact, anything we do – has a clear purpose with a fundamental outcome linked to our mission. And it needs to be measurable too.

Ninety percent of my work is in fundraising and marketing – which is often easier to measure.  Do x instead of y.  Measure: did x raise more net income than y (whether immediate or long-term).  For fundraising that is always the ultimate measure.

Where it gets tricky is in the charitable outcome.  The purpose of our charity.  The impact. Unfortunately, that is not my area of expertise.  It can stretch from quite objective outcomes such as saving the Tasmanian devil from extinction over the next twenty years to big and subjective outcomes like reducing poverty in Africa.

Despite the challenge of measuring charitable purpose, we do need to make ongoing, measured assessments of why we do things.  Often things we do are done because they always were.

I think absolutely everything we do in charities comes down to: how does this demonstrably help us achieve our charitable purpose/mission?

That can then be broken down into:

  • Demonstrate how this is implementing our charitable purpose or mission, better than a different, known use of time or money that is not being done.
  • Demonstrate how this will raise more funds to be able to implement our charitable purpose and mission better than a different, known potential use of time or money that is not being done.

Every activity costs the charity money or time.  Even volunteer work is work done by volunteers who could be doing something else.  Unless your mission is to help your volunteers themselves, your volunteers’ work must contribute demonstrably to purpose and mission.

Otherwise, you are probably wasting your charities’ resources.  We know, as charity workers or volunteers, that these resources are not actually the charity.  They are resources we hold in trust on behalf of our donors to help our beneficiaries, that is, delivering our mission.

So when we write or produce anything, we have a serious responsibility to make that time and effort either directly help us achieve our charitable purpose or indirectly, for example through fundraising.

Our Mid-Value Donor Super Course will teach you that perfect formula to get the most out of your charities’ time and money. It’s available for all members of The Fundraisingology Lab.


  • Sean Triner

    Sean Triner is a Co-Founder of Moceanic and Pareto Group. With over three decades of experience in fundraising and a Bachelor of Science (Honours) in mathematics, Sean has a wealth of fundraising expertise to share with Moceanic members and blog readers. He is also a coach and available for bookings on the Coaching+ program for fundraisers to help answer your questions and work hands-on directly with you.

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2 Comments. Leave new

  • The ‘Tasmanian evil’?? Didn’t realise the Islanders were that bad 🙂 Perhaps try Tasmanian Devil

    • Christiana Stergiou
      April 21, 2017 4:21 am

      Thanks Word Master! This post is cursed. We have changed it so many times, after so many people told us the problem. Thanks again!! Christiana


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