Purpose: Distilled

The Value of Knowing Your Personal Values

As an activist-y, cause-based agency, Black Sheep has a lot of friends and clients who really Care About Things (caps intentional). Lovely, genuine, committed people, every one of them.

But when you care that much, it’s easy to fall into one truly inconvenient habit: saying yes to EVERYTHING. Yes to every person/post/entity asking for a donation. Yes to every board invitation, yes to every volunteer opportunity. Yes to every request upon your resources because there’s always someone less fortunate than you. We adore our giving friends for exactly this reason—their generous spirit.But Y’ALL. None of us have unlimited resources, and every“yes”to something is a“no”to another opportunity. Knowing what you really, REALLY care about is the best way to maximize your impact. Otherwise we’ve got a slow bleed of five-dollar bills going to everything from your weird neighbor’s kickstarter for“duck feeding”(??)to your coworker Charlotte’s candle fundraiser to research a disease you’ve never heard of that you’re concerned may not be real. Know what that could’ve been? A hundred bucks to a children’s home in your own back yard that you’re truly passionate about. 

Defining your personal values and distilling the purpose(s) you care most about supporting gives you a platform for choosing what to focus on and what to pass on.

Let’s say (hypothetically, of course) that your aunt asks you to get involved with her church’s charity in Guatemala because they “need more young people,” but both Guatemala AND your aunt’s church are over a thousand miles away from you. Hypothetically. If you’ve already nailed down your personal values, you can simply tell her that, while you love children’s charities and they are at the center of the things you care about, you work with one closer to home and feel like you’re most effective focusing your efforts there.


To that end, we’ve developed this nifty, printable card deck exercise to help you distill your own purpose to focus on. The cards include common activism and volunteer causes to consider, as well as either/or scenarios to help you determine the limitations and opportunities of your lifestyle. 

  1. Print the cards.
  2. Make decisions.
  3. Go forth confident in the things you care most about.
  4. Obliterate injustice everywhere. We believe in you.

P.S. If you use our card deck and you have feedback, give it!

The Black Sheep