“People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it,” says Simon Sinek in his very popular TEDx talk. And he’s right. People buy thy WHY. The thing is… this is a big problem in development work! People buy the WHY – which means they are fueling good intentions, not necessarily good impacts. Here are some thoughts about this that our team at PEPY & PEPY Tours put together via video (thanks for the animations, Wei!):
Selling the WHY works for companies selling products or services, like in Simon’s example, Apple. If Apple sells their WHY – like “Being Different” – people can get on board with that. They buy into the WHY and then they buy the product. But if the WHAT fails (ie: if the product breaks, isn’t really all that “different” or just doesn’t fit the person’s need), then the person wont buy from that company again, and in today’s world, they’d use social media to let all of their friends know not to buy it either.
But if the WHAT fails in development work (ie: people really weren’t “saved” from XYZ disease, kids didn’t show up to the school, the well as broken, the micro-loans caused more debt than gains in wealth, etc), the donor who was so moved to fund the project because she believed in the WHY sometimes never finds out. And when the annual collection information touting the WHY of the organization ends up in her inbox again, she might send another check, again, and again, and again….
So we need to stop buying WHYs and start buying HOWs. And if donors start buying good HOWs, then NGOs will start selling their HOWs, and we can use our fundraising for more education, rather than emotions fueling good intentions.
Pass this on if too want to be part of a HOW and IMPACT focused movement.
Pssst – we have some beta info up on www.investingtimeinpeople.org – a loose collection of people (like you?!) who share similar ideas about development work. We are looking to apply for a grant that is coming up in a few months with regards to creating an ad campaign around the HOWs of high impact development work. Want to be involved? Drop a note!