Having worked for a number of charities, it is interesting to observe the changes as a fledgling charity grows to maturity. Often, a new charity is focussed on people and the transformation/s that occur in peoples lives, it brings life, encourages others to participate and there is a real sense of ownership. However, in time, it is possible that significant shifts may occur, shifts that seem insignificant but in time will move the charity from a focus on transformation to one of production.
For example, a youth charity may begin by impacting the lives of young people and with success there may be dreams of meeting more young people, in order to help and support them. It makes sense to meet them in a place where they spend most time, school. This approach is good, makes sense and is fruitful. However, it does not take too long before the measure of success becomes, how many lessons have been taken, how many assemblies, how many lunch clubs. Whilst these things are not wrong, it does show a shift from transformation to production. A slight move from the centre will impact the place of destination – the measure has moved from how many lives are transformed to the place of how many activities we do, so that we may transform lives. This is a subtle but significant difference.
The same change can be seen in any labour of love as it grows and develops, as others join the cause and as funders seek to make ‘a bigger bang for their buck’ – the question we need to concentrate on is, which is most important, transformation or production?