Rural Water - Quarter 4, 2018 - 23
BY BOB HARRIS, CAE
Does an association have an essence?
Every nonprofit has a statement
of purpose, programs, members and
a board of directors-but what about
essence? Essence means a core nature or
indispensable quality, especially something
abstract that determines its character.
There is reason to know the
essence. It can help predict outcomes.
It may differentiate the association from
organizations with similar purposes. A
person might join or renew because they
respect the essence.
During a discussion with a life coach,
he said all people and organizations have
an essence. He used terms such as their
energy or aura that one can sense.
He described it this way, "Knowing the
essence of an association is to know their
I feel that associations have an
essence; a core nature and indispensable
quality that helps to characterize them for
good or bad.
"I can't imagine what it is like to be
a member of an association that doesn't
portray an essence. Without a favorable
1. the intrinsic nature or indispensable
quality of something, especially
something abstract, that determines
"conflict is the essence of drama"
synonyms: quintessence, soul,
essence it is difficult to recruit members
and volunteers. I urge everyone to take
a moment to identify the essence of
their organization (positive or negative)
and understand how it defines the
association's character," explains Adrienne
Bryant, CAE and an executive at IntrinXec
She refers to it as "je ne sais quoi,"
meaning an indefinable quality that makes
something distinctive or attractive.
To identify essence, start with the
mission. Is it focused inward-caring only
about members, or does it include external
impact such as improving access to
patient care, enhancing safety, community
relations and a positive economic impact?