Making BRIDGES a success, where our goal is not to make money but to make people’s lives better, is a huge challenge. Seeing, and even defining, “success” is often frustrating and can feel heartbreakingly slow.
It’s actually pretty simple to judge whether a for-profit venture is successful or not. If you are making money you know you are doing something right. If you aren’t? Well, you may just suck (just kidding) or it may simply be time to try something new altogether (seriously).
When it comes to a social impact venture not only is the work itself tough but it also can be brutally tough to know if the work you are doing is actually, you know, “working;” actually succeeding. Pouring your heart and soul into a social venture to help people, not make money, and never being sure your efforts will get the results you are looking for is either super noble or super crazy. (For me, it’s probably the latter 😉
Think of it this way: Would you run a marathon on a course that wasn’t marked? Not knowing if or when you would cross the finish line (getting results) or if you were even heading in the right direction (making progress). Well, the reality is that I have chosen this race, this (ultra?) marathon and I often don’t know what I’m doing.
But here are two things I DO know:
ONE. I know that the work we are doing is IMPORTANT. It’s not just soccer and it’s not just about helping a few kids in Utah. The work we do is about cohesion-the action of forming a united whole. It’s about bringing people together and making lives better. I love this quote from a Muslim living in the war-torn country of Central African Republic: the homeland of the very first family we reunited.
“Poverty and lack of work are factors that influence instability. When people are busy, they do not have time to fill their heads with negative thoughts, their minds are on their work. People without work can be dangerous to society. Activities, such as football, games, music and dance, bring communities together and facilitate interaction — they are powerful tools for maintaining social cohesion,” Ibrahum Mahamat, Imam Mosque in Ndélé. Read the full story on the IOM site here. My emphasis added.
So, the work we do with soccer has the potential to not just enrich people’s lives but to actually help heal communities. THAT is important work and I am honored to be leading it.
TWO. I KNOW we are making a positive impact. The families and the kids we help always tell us how much they appreciate the work we do. Many observers say “great job!” or “love your work.” These cheers of encouragement from the sidelines of the marathon of social impact work keep my team and me going, especially when I am exhausted and can’t see a clear path ahead. Thank you!
Our work of bridging people through soccer is important and, while slower than I’d like, we are making progress. But we have so many more steps to take and miles to go that we simply cannot stop now. Uniting communities to become one with each other, building cohesion, is what we are all about. So much work to do and the timing has never been more critical. Read what just happened today.
If you’d like to get involved then message me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s figure something out.