Written by DeliverFund Director of Operations U.S. Navy SEAL (Ret.) Michael Fullilove

There has been much press about the Navy SEALS and their successes defending our nation. Many of the same questions exist today as they did 20 years ago, when I joined. The overriding question that has persisted through time is: What qualities make a Navy SEAL?

I will answer that question here as well as explain how the best nonprofits exemplify the same qualities. Bottom Line up Front (BLUF) — It is all about the focus on impact! There are other key components as well, but they all end at the same point.

Mission FocusSisyphus By Titian [Public Domain], via Wikimedia

One of the earliest lessons you learn in SEAL Training (BUD/S) is if everybody is not moving with the same purpose, an immense amount of pain will be forthcoming. In BUD/S if not everyone is in sync when paddling a boat through the surf with 8/10-foot waves then the entire boat crew will be dumped into the surf courtesy of mother nature. The only way through the breakers is unity of purpose, unity of effort, and commitment.

DeliverFund has this mission focus at its core. We may have differing opinions on matters and debate them intensely, (this is encouraged at all levels of the organization) but once a decision is made it is time to “shut up and row”. With this, we maintain our focus on our mission of ensuring law enforcement is able to arrest human traffickers and save children. This has allowed us a culture of encouraging expression of differing viewpoints while maintaining the mission focus.

In the nonprofit world, if the entire team is not working with the same unity of purpose, unity of effort and commitment then your organization will be metaphorically dumped into the surf. There is simply no way to accomplish the Sisyphean task of changing the world if people are worried about hurt feelings and are not working towards the same goal. Focus on the mission!

Work hard and get dirty — regardless of your position | By Sgt. Mark Fayloga [Public domain], via Wikimedia
The SEAL Teams did not start out with the funding and profile they enjoy today. In the early days (Startup phase) the SEAL Teams begged, borrowed (and yes stole) for everything they needed. As a new nonprofit that may be your current lot in life. The experience of adversity will only make you better in the end. Nothing in life is free, and as a SEAL trainee, you learn early in that if you want a break you are going to have to work for it!

An example is that if you wanted to have a short break from holding a 200-pound log over your head, then you had better give everything you have to get through the set of exercises. It did not matter if you were an officer or a 17-year-old kid fresh out of high school. All worked and did whatever was needed to accomplish the job.