What are you looking for?

Why “Why” Is The Most Important Question Your Organization Can Answer

Posted by on March 4th, 2010
Posted in Blog, Nonprofit Copywriting, Nonprofit Fundraising, Nonprofit Messaging, Storytelling    Tags: , , , ,

Imagine you’re writing an online newsletter. You have a choice of stories to tell:

  1. The one about your board retreat
  2. The one about a major gift you just received
  3. A story about a person whose life has changed because of your organization’s work

Even though most of us know that the third story is the best option, many organizations end up choosing the first two options.

Why? Because most organizations fall into this trap: we’re so excited to tell people about the work we’re doing on a day–to–day basis that we forget to tell them why our organizations are needed in the first place.

At Mission Minded, we call this the sin of starting in the middle of the conversation. Our donors gave us money, right? We assume they must understand our organization if they were willing to give, and therefore it isn’t important to remind them why our work is necessary. It’s OK if I jump right in and treat them as insiders.


The truth is that even our staunchest supporters — even our board members and staff — need to be reminded that the work we do is crucial.

In order to remind people of that, you have to start every conversation by answering the question, “Why?” Why does the world need your organization? What problem do you exist to solve?

Think about the organizations that do this best: Amnesty International, Doctors Without Borders, ASPCA. As a donor, I may not know much about these organizations’ individual programs, but through constant communication from these organizations in the form of stories, I know exactly why the organizations are needed. As a result, I feel I know them and trust them.

The same thing should be true for your organization. Every communication from your organization —whether its a annual report story or a casual conversation at your kid’s soccer game — should remind people why your work is needed. Save the internal machinations of how you do your work for the staff meeting.

Start with “Why” and the rest of your communications become easy.


Zach Hochstadt is a Mission Minded Founding Partner and runs Mission Minded’s Denver office, leading the company’s creative teams in the areas of message development, writing, graphic design, and web design and development.

See all posts by

One response to “Why “Why” Is The Most Important Question Your Organization Can Answer”