Mission Matching

You don’t always see it. It’s seemingly something that should be easy to convey, but many organizations truly struggle with it. Those that can master it have the potential to unlock tremendous value. The “it” is clarity of purpose and there’s only one thing better. That’s when two organizations have clarity around the same purpose—and they find a way to work together toward it.

Reading a recent post from Corey Binns on the Stanford Social Innovation Review reminded us of this. The post is an account of how the Charles Schwab Foundation and the Boys and Girls Clubs of America (BGCA) together have reached a half-million teens through their shared purpose of helping people help themselves. This deeply rooted approach to supporting others rests in each organization’s legacy and DNA and makes this now decade-long partnership possible. It’s not “cause of the day” thinking. It’s “we both believe in this” thinking. It’s powerful and can deliver impact for the long haul.

In their case, the tool is the jointly created Money Matters program. It brings financial literacy solutions to 1,700 of BGCA’s 4,000 clubs nationally. The partnership now sees 84,000 teens go through the program each year, activating Charles Schwab Corporation employees in the process to be finance coaches (as pictured above) in the program. And partly because of the shared purpose, there is an openness to evaluation and testing what works, what doesn’t and course corrections to improve. That kind of commitment and investment of time takes shared purpose.

As we know very well at C.Fox, the right partners can often make a world of difference. Finding those with shared purpose—a mission match—can be among the best ways to make sustainable, impactful difference in the world.

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Lasting Impact

Earlier this week, Pastor John Steinbruck, one of Washington, D.C.’s most beloved and influential community activists, passed away. He was 84.

I only met Pastor John once, but stories of his impact on this city have been circling through our work at C.Fox for years.

Steinbruck came to Luther Place Memorial Church at Thomas Circle in 1970, at a time when Thomas Circle was a gathering place for many homeless persons and a haven for prostitution. His mission was clear, and his approach was revolutionary: open the doors. It felt counterintuitive, and many disagreed, but he held steadfast to his call for broad community participation in the effort.

Using his community organizing skills he began an interfaith ministry with numerous congregations in the D.C. Metropolitan area that would culminate into what those in D.C. now know as N Street Village, a continuum of services for homeless women that has since become a national model of care.

As noted in his obituary, “with the tireless help and dedication of his parishioners and the Interfaith community, he always stood ready to support those facing injustice, be it migrant workers, Salvadoran refugees or Soviet Jews seeking liberation from abuse and oppression.” Pastor John’s efforts helped to fuel a creative social justice movement that led to some of the city’s most respected social service efforts, including Lutheran Volunteer Corps, Bread for the City, the D.C. Hotline and the Thomas Circle Singers.

In recent months, we’ve been talking quite a bit about “legacy” with our clients – the legacy that we each leave as leaders, and how the fingerprints of our work now will mark lasting impact for our causes.

We may not know in the moment how our actions will drive our legacy, but it’s a solid reminder when thinking about the life and legacy of Pastor John that no person or organization has ever had transformational change without sticking to its core beliefs.

Moving any mission forward, regardless of the issue, won’t happen without authenticity and a clear passion for the issue. Pastor John Steinbruck clearly had both. His life’s work is and may always be one of the best legacies of our city.

A service is scheduled to celebrate Pastor John Steinbruck’s life on Monday, March 9, 2015 at 11 a.m. The service will be at Luther Place Memorial Church (1226 Vermont Ave. NW) with a reception following in N Street Village’s multipurpose room. All are welcome.

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