Do you have a purple cow? While Seth Godin may not be an author you are familiar with, this concept might change the way you think about fulfilling your mission, especially if your organization has been around for years and years. All too often, the experience within the purpose-driven community, especially among nonprofits, is a territorial one. It is a sense of scarcity. The myth of a limited pie of donations is still strong. Many opportunities are wasted by focusing on what others are doing and how to guard the island of grants we've carved out.
But what would happen if instead of chasing dollars with dollars, after all it does cost money to ask for money, we invested some of that cash and effort into being remarkable.
As in, "I cannot believe how neat this project is. I want to be a part of this. I can't want to tell my friends and family about it."
The concept of a "purple cow" is just that...it's remarkable, unlike the hundreds of other white or brown or black-spotted cows. What do you do within your organization that is truly remarkable?
Thousands of organizations feed the hungry, shelter the homeless, and save the children. What if a new organization opened their doors in your hometown with a remarkable way of fulfilling your mission better, or just differently? What kind of impact would that have?
We have entered an age of social innovation rather than "social work". Social entrepreneurs, benefit corporations, social enterprises, and impact investments are driving forward new ideas and testing opportunities to create a bigger impact.
While the recognition of opportunity within the social sector benefits us all on the whole, the climate is charged with tension. There is a divide between the old traditions - boring galas, silent auctions, and holiday appeals for the broken dishwasher - and the exciting pioneers who are pushing the limits and taking major risks.
Regardless of where you fall on the continuum, you're in a crowded field. What sets you apart? What makes your organization remarkable?
Wouldn't it be remarkable if the local homeless shelter installed a large greenhouse on their roof and the homeless and unemployed could work part-time farming food for the soup kitchen, building their resume and earning income?
Would you talk about a women's empowerment group that sent young women to flight school as a precursor to business school scholarships?
What if a bicycle collective taught disadvantaged kids how to build a bicycle and then gave it to them, providing confidence, exercise, and transportation? What if they then hired these youth later on to work as bicycle techs in their shops?
What if a sustainable farm-to-table organization transformed a school bus into a greenhouse so that kids could actually see and take part in where their food comes from at local schools?
These last two purple cows already exist right here in Salt Lake City.
Could you create a purple cow within your mission delivery?
Since we can all agree that passionate, creative organizations who are excited about solving problems in our community are a more attractive location to invest our dollars, share with us what you already do or could do to stand out.
The purplest commentator by the end of the day Sunday, April 13th will receive a free copy of The Purple Cow. Good luck!