I know we keep trying to define who Voices is and what we do. It is simple to me:
We work to put an end to war.
How do we do it? [and, this is where I believe the complexity comes in] We teach, we tell stories, we try and awaken people's emotions so that they can understand the horrors of war, and as we go along we reach out to help people heal (thus, coming to a better understanding of who we are and our capabilities to cope and to work for change).
Who is our audience? [and this can be naive, but it has been the way we have been involved] Anyone who will listen! The most obvious audience has been educators, students, poets, and those who have experienced war in any of its manifestations.
Why have we had trouble defining our identity? [no excuses here, but we were born in the era of the Bush administration] We've been hesitate to say that we are anti-war or to announce we are a peace organization. We are certainly the former, but I'm not certain we are the latter.
Why is it difficult for us to raise money? [ok, I'm probably really naive here] I don't think we've had a real plan to broaden our base, involve our members, ask directly of those who we have courted. The reality we face is that the people who are most directly affected by Voices are those who don't have the means NOW to help us financially. I think this is a reality that most educators face--never quite knowing if the work they are doing is helpful or appreciated.
What do we really want to measure to prove our success? [to show that the Stories of Arrival youth have not dropped out of school, or taken to a life of delinquency? that our veterans continue to struggle with PTSD and don't take their lvies? that teachers can say that they use our materials and students' hope perks up?] I believe we need to determine what it is we need/want to measure and how we are going to do it? There is the data: does it look better when we can say that we have 100,000 hits a month on our website verses 10,000? There is the direct quantiative (observational) measurement--the stories; and the more traditional qualitative measurement--the ratings of our work. The former is more acceptable with foundations (even the Federal Government) in proposal writing, the latter is more expected in the world of business.
These are my thoughts (they might be a part of our values/vision)
Voices works to help build community among its members, those who join us in classrooms, workshops or on-line
Voices believes that it is possible to change the world--yes, one step at a time.
Voices believes that each person holds transformative power to be involved to bring about good in the world--the stories keep hope alive.
Voices believes that our very best as a human being is in our personal narrative.
Voices believes that stories help us shift the paradigm.