One of the relief organizations my wife and I support is World Vision. These people are AMAZING and they do remarkable work that Nicholas Kristoff of The New York Times raved about in a recent column he wrote.
What I love about World Vision is that they are a force for connection. They connect their employees, volunteers and donors with people in desperate need around the world. The result is a fired up organization that is making a difference.
The last two evenings I served as a volunteer to help out with the World Vision AIDS Experience that is presently in Greenwich, Connecticut through next Sunday. The experience takes you on a journey to see the lives of four African children affected by aids. The stories are both heartbreaking and heartwarming. Everyone attending said they were moved and inspired. Many become child sponsors or purchase a kit or bycycle to help one of the 77,000 World Vision Caregivers in 20 countries. (You can learn more about attending at no cost, which I very highly recommend, by clicking here.)
While volunteering, I met Kristin, an enthusiastic, motivated, bright young World Vision employee. Speaking with Kristen made me see how well World Vision connects its workers and donors with those who are in need, not only financially to meet their needs for clean water, health care and education, but also relationally. Here’s an example. At the end of the World Vision AIDS Experience, donors can sit down in an area where materials are available to write a letter (or, for very young donors, to color a picture) that is sent to the donor’s newly sponsored child. Notice in the picture at top, above the young girl writing a letter to her sponsored child is a sign that says “Connect with Your Child.” How great is that! Our family has connected with our child in Rwanda by periodically writing and sending gifts to her, and we’ve received letters in return.
As you may know, my blog is primarily about the power of connection in organizations and in life as part of what I refer to as a “Connection Culture” that I wrote about in Fired Up or Burned Out. World Vision’s ways are relevant to all organizations, including for-profit corporations. World Vision is more effective because they are intentional about connecting people to a cause greater than self and in doing so the people who are part of World Vision want to give their best efforts and align their behavior with the organization’s goals. Just to mention it, another benefit from connection that accrues to philanthropic organizations was identified in recent research conducted by Indiana University. The research identified the #1 reason people stop giving to a philanthropic organization is they no longer felt connected.
How is your organization doing connecting your employees and customers to a cause greater than self? If you don’t know, get some of your most fired up employees together and ask them “when have you felt proud about your organization” and after they tell you ask them to explain “why they felt proud?”. You will hear stories that will help you identify ways you can fire up people by connecting them to a cause greater than self.