Do you have a BHAG?

Does the organisation you work for have a BHAG? If not I strongly recommend you get one. A BHAG is a game changer. It’s the thing that can drive both you, your team and your organisation every day. What is it?!

A BHAG stands for a Big Hairy Audacious Goal. Check out the definition on Wikapedia for a history of its use. In short it’s a goal that is just the other side of impossible.

A famous example would be Kennedy’s announcement in 1961 that the US would put a man on the moon by the end of the decade. They did it with six months to spare. What a BHAG does is it starts to align everyone to achieve that goal. When Kennedy met a toilet cleaner during his tour of NASA and asked what job he did the janitor famously replied “Sir, I’m helping to put a man on the moon”.

And if there is one sector that should have inspiring BHAG’s then it has to be the voluntary sector tackling some of the greatest environmental and social challenges we face.

A powerful tool for fundraising

Each week you ask yourself “what does the BHAG demand?“. How will you have to change your strategy to achieve it? It will undoubtably mean some tough but necessary decisions. The great (and scary) thing about having something the other side of impossible is invariably it’s almost certainly going to need funds you don’t have, yet.  So for fundraisers it such a powerful tool. It is something to talk about and engage people. I have been in meetings when I have shared SolarAid’s BHAG which we set this year. It has changed the entire dynamic of discussions.

As I walked out of the meeting room, on the very day we set our BHAG at SolarAid, there on the wall was a framed picture of a man on the moon (I took a photo as you can see above). We took it as a good sign! Our BHAG is simply this:  To eradicate the Kerosene lamp from Africa by the end of the decade.  (To find out why kerosene is so bad watch our latest film).

I think it needs to be simple – so it is memorable and powerful.

An example of a BHAG’s that had a impact on fundraising would be NSPCC’s goal to end cruelty to children in the UK and its subsequent Full Stop campaign.

A BHAG  provides a real and meaningful sense of why – it gives people a purpose. If you are one of the 7 million plus ‘views’ of of Dan Pinks RSA talk about what motivates us you will remember a sense of purpose is one of the three key motivators for people. Haven’t seen it?! Then when you have 10 minutes – click here The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us.

Now we have set a BHAG at SolarAid – the why – the next big, and obvious, question is the how?! How we will do it and how others can help. We believe it is just about possible – but we also know we can’t do it alone – it will mean we will need to brave and innovate. It will mean we need to collaborate with others. And of course we will have to raise money from donors and volunteers, because in order to achieve it we will need to.

It’s potentially a fundraisers paradise.

So I suggest you ask yourself does your organisation have a BHAG?! It should to be scary (that’s the ‘big’ and ‘hairy’ and ‘audacious’ bit). If it has you would know about it (otherwise it isn’t a BHAG!). If not I suggest you get one. Could be the best tool in your armoury (or your garden shed – if like me you prefer gardening metaphors).

8 thoughts on “Do you have a BHAG?

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