The continuum of cause-based work

There is a continuum of cause-based work.

On one polar end is the smallest, most fledgling neighborhood-level work, and on the other end are the biggest nonprofits. Even the biggest ones came from Champions of the Lost Causes foundational moments.

I work at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and have ruminated on the Danny Thomas foundational story for years. Even it had that Champions foundational spark. After saying a prayer to St. Jude Thaddeus, patron saint of hopeless causes, saying “show me my way in life, and I will build you a shrine,” Danny ultimately was led to found St. Jude, and its founding battle cry was to tackle childhood cancer, which at the time was considered an almost sure death sentence. He could not walk away from his promise, and he aimed his intent at an intractable problem everyone else had shied away from.

Danny Thomas was a Champion, and when he found the lost cause of childhood cancer, which others had seen and passed by, he “found” it, and the world is glad he did.

Like any Champion, Danny drew to himself early adherents, and off they went, building from the ground up, talking to anyone who would listen. St. Jude now has an annual budget of more than a billion dollars, and it employs more than 4,000 people.

It all started with someone who saw a cause he could not ignore.