Purpose Driven? If You Cannot Define it, Probably Not

Any organization that claims to be purpose, impact, or mission driven had better define its terms.

“Purpose driven” has become a common, but poorly defined phrase for many organizations in the impact sector. We challenged ourselves to think critically about how we define purpose, and what being a purpose driven organization means specifically for Schaffer&Combs.

For S&C, purpose denotes:

  • An effort to advance positive, measurable social impact, with a particular focus on equity and essential fairness in human endeavors, and the relationships that drive them.
  • An effort to advance positive, measurable environmental impact, with a focus on sustainability and safety.
  • An effort to mitigate unnecessary suffering, and measure that mitigation. We know that some misery and misfortune is unavoidable. We focus on the avoidable: suffering caused by ignorance, fear, or incapacity.

We chose the word purpose because it seemed to us to have the broadest application, and we apply it broadly. Schaffer&Combs does not use a negative screen or discriminate among businesses, nonprofits, or public agencies. We focus on applying the right resources to the right mission, because all sectors are necessary to help shape the civilization we want to live in.

Because we are incurable consultants, we captured in a table what could have been a long narrative. We offer it as an evolving sensibility, rather than a set of rules.

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