Monday, January 04, 2010

Goal Posts, Part II -- Charitable Accountability

or, Put Your Money (and Time) Where Your Mouth Is

Several things have happened lately that have made me re-evaluate how I will approach the things I want to do. One of them was a pre-Christmas blog post by literary agent Nathan Bransford in which he invited readers to comment with a wish for 2010. For every comment, he pledged to donate $1 to Heifer International.

Mr Bransford invited others to take the ball and run with it. I took him up on the challenge. So did at least 22 other bloggers (according to the links on his original post). And ::bam!:: -- just like that -- a bit of writing that I did, coupled with a bit of writing that others did, resulted in a real benefit to real people. (The comments I received were enough to buy some bees!)

How's that for a warm, fuzzy feeling and for knowing that your writing is doing something worthwhile and making the world a better place?

A few days after Christmas, we received a letter from Darlene, a friend of ours who used to work at Whirlpool with Robert. She was a project lead and a project manager. This past year, however, she quit her (very lucrative) job with corporate America to pursue her dream. She is currently attending seminary and getting her M.Div. Her Christmas letter practically glows with hope, fulfillment, and the satisfaction of rising to a welcome challenge.

All we could say was "Wow!" We are so proud of her for following where her dreams lead.

Both Mr. Bransford and Darlene have made me think about how I can make my dreams (and the dreams of my clients) have a more positive impact.

I wanted to come up with a way that would not only help clients, friends, and others reach their goals, but that would also make the world a better place as those people were reaching for their goals. I propose Charitable Accountability as a place to start. Here's how it works:

Step 1: Identify your BIG End Goal. It must be quantifiable and reachable within this calendar year.

(If you, like me, have several big projects you want to tackle, then each major project counts as a single goal. This keeps you from than loading up all of your dream projects into one big pile and calling that your goal.)

Step 2: Identify at least 10 people who love you and who want to see you succeed. Write their names down, contact them, and ask if they will help support you in your quest to reach your goal.

Step 3: Divide your main goal into 12 quantifiable sub-goals. Each sub-goal should be attainable within 4 weeks of working on it.

Post these goals, numbered 1 - 12 on your website or blog.

If your goal is to write a novel, the following sub-goals might make sense:

1.) Outline entire project and begin required research.
2.) Write the hook, complete required research, create character notes.
3 - 7.) Write 20,000 words (5,000 words per week) until project is completed (100,000 word total).
8.) Read and edit first 50,000 words. Solicit criticism on the edited draft.
9.) Read and edit second 50,000 words. Solicit criticism on the edited draft.
10.) Incorporate necessary changes.
11.) Polish prose until squeaky clean.
12.) Edit for grammar and punctuation.

Step 4: Determine your favorite non-profit charitable organization. Set up a way to donate to them and post it on your website or blog.

Step 5: Ask each of your supporters (see Step 2) to pledge a total of $60 to help you reach your goal in the next year. At the end of each month, you should have reached the next sub-goal on your list. Post your progress on your website or blog.

Every time you make a stated sub-goal, each supporter pledges to make a $5 donation to your chosen charity.

Important!: If you do NOT reach a stated sub-goal, your supporters are not required to donate. However, you (and no one else) are responsible for committing to your dreams.

Failing to meet a sub-goal is literally taking money away from your selected charity. That's not fair! So it is YOUR responsibility to pledge to make up the difference that your missed sub-goal has cost the organization. If you have 10 supporters, and each is happy to donate $5 / month for each goal you make, that means that you are responsible for a $50 donation for every month you miss your goals.

How's that for incentive AND for knowing that your dreams are as important to the world as they are to you?

At the end of the year you will not only have reached your Big Goal, but you will also have raised at least $600 for your favorite charity!

And that, in a nutshell, is my formula for Charitable Accountability. Any takers? If so, feel free to comment. I encourage you to put your $$ where your dreams are. Get your friends and family on board, and get started toward reaching your goal today!

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