Purely Practical SMIT: 4 Keys to Never Lose the Why

Never lose the why, by Gaping Void

By Hugh MacLeod

Philanthropy; Not Fundraising

This month’s SMIT (Single Most Important Thing I have to tell you) is to never lose sight of the “Why.”  And total props to Hugh MacLeod (whose brilliant cartoon is shared here) for the reminder. It’s a simple concept; not so simple to comply.

Unless you know your purpose, it’s difficult to do meaningful business and connect effectively with people.  Duh.

Your vision or, if you will, your dream is your purpose.  It’s the “why” of your existence.  It’s not the “what” of your mission – all that stuff you do to get to the underlying reason you’re doing it.  No, it’s what got you to do all that stuff in the first place. It’s where you’re going. (Tweet this).

Remember, you can’t go everywhere at once. Gosh darn it!  Want to stop hunger in its tracks?  Do it with a burning passion until there are no more hungry people in your neighborhood or community.  Want to kick cancer to the corner?  Do it with an ardor that obliterates the disease for an identified group of sufferers. Want to end illiteracy and open doors to knowledge?  Do so with fervor that opens opportunities for an area that’s long been kept in the dark.


  1. Be zealous about your vision. If you don’t really care, you’re endangering your soul.  If you aren’t coming from a place of soulfulness, you won’t be able to truly connect with others who will make your vision a reality.  As cliché as it sounds, we’re “planet earth.”  We’re in this together.  If your soul isn’t touching other souls then your planet is an unendingly flat one.  Make it round. You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. – John Lennon, Imagine
  2. Be clear about your purpose so that it’s attainable (i.e., don’t endeavor to end hunger for all people everywhere; do what you can reasonably do and hope there are people just like you in other corners of the world). If your vision is too vague or too broad it will be difficult – and frustrating—to achieve. Hone your vision. It is not incumbent upon you to complete the work, but neither are you at liberty to desist from it– Pirkei Avot 
  3. Be focused on your purpose. Don’t get distracted chasing grant opportunities or individual donor dreams that may not align with your real “raison d’etre.”  Money is not the goal.  The point is what money can do. If it takes you away from your purpose then you’ve lost your way.  Get back on track. If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there. – Lewis Carroll
  4. Be passionate about your work.  Do what you must to constantly re-connect and renew. Get out in the field and see the change you’re creating. Talk to your supporters and understand why they care. If you’ve lost your passion, can’t get it back, or never had it, consider doing something different.  You’re not doing yourself (or other people, or your community, or the planet) any favors if you’re merely phoning it in. Life’s too short. Do it differently, or do something else. One person with passion is better than forty people merely interested.—E.M. Forster

Know your purpose. Care passionately. (Tweet this).

I have a dream… the sun will rise… the clouds will part… and it will be because of the light you shine.

How do you stay connected to the Why? 

To help clarify your purpose and connect passionately to your “why” check out the SPECIAL GUIDE:  7 CLAIRIFICATION KEYS TO UNLOCK YOUR NONPROFIT’S FUNDRAISING POTENTIAL. It includes easy-to-follow worksheets and exercises to get you – and your supporters – on the path towards more meaningful commitment.

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About Claire

I’m Claire and I want to help you raise more money, reach more people and build long-lasting relationships with your supporters. Take a look in the archives.


  1. Christopher Wilson says:

    Wonderful article–truly speaks volumes on the importance of passion and carrying out your life’s purpose. If we are able to make a positive impact on each individual that come into our lives we will generally have a positive life experience. I’ve recently discovered my passion in leadership/self development and it has been truly rewarding. I believe self development and transformation is such an important stage in the overall development of ones passion. We need to understand ourselves (strengths, weaknesses, values, morals) before we can fully live out our passion. Thank you for this article and your contribution!


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