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Momentum (noun): The quantity of motion of a moving body, measured as a product of its mass and velocity.  Velocity is speed in a specific direction.  More on that later.

The PwrdBy team was lucky enough to attend the Children’s Miracle Network’s Momentum Conference last week.  It was a truly inspiring event, and certainly reminded everyone on our team why we do what we do.  Our major takeaway is that the true definition of Momentum is the quantity of impact of a growing organization. It’s about increasing the amount of lifesaving research. It’s about enhancing connections with a large community of donors, givers, and stakeholders. It’s about having a laser focus on continually improving the lives of millions of sick kids. It’s about innovation in the impact space. We are writing this blog to share a few lessons we learned from Momentum this year.

So what did we learn? Here a five things we learned from the Momentum Conference:

  1. Momentum is About Increasing Impact: If “momentum” is the quantity of motion of a moving body, then I think “quantity of motion” for the Miracle Network really means “the quantity of impact” as measured by amount and growth. For the Miracle Network, this means that the organization is doing what few nonprofits have successfully done and increasing both its amount and pace of impact. This was demonstrated by its largest year of research, stakeholders, and donations as well as greater than GDP growth rates (8%). To us, this is mission plus execution and it is refreshing to see from a nonprofit.    
  2. Research Really Can Save Children: One of the areas where the Miracle Network’s donations go to is research for children. Through this research, breakthroughs are continuing to happen in a space that only accounts for 4% of federal grants. And nothing reiterates this more than when former patients get to grow up and join the cause. One such example is Josh Sundquist; Miracle Kid, Paralympic athlete and now professional speaker.
  3. Engaging a Community Begets Synergy: While at the conference, we were able to connect with partner champions from Wal-Mart, Rite-Aid, CostCo, among others. These partners are as excited to be part of the Miracle Network as do the people who work for the Network. And it shows. Many of these partners have increased their annual support dramatically year over year and have found new and innovative ways to support the network, whether it is through DipJars, roundup donations, or direct asks to customers.
  4. The Miracle Network is Dedicated to Innovation: “Perfection is the enemy of progress” would be the mantra for innovation at Momentum. We were lucky to learn about initiatives like new coin collection tools, electronic partnership donation models, and Extra Life communities that really are connecting with the modern donor. The Miracle Network proudly displayed its new, imperfect, and sometimes unpolished technology right alongside its tried-and-true standards.  This is a perspective every nonprofit needs to adopt.  New initiatives do not mean giving up programs that work.  But testing new programs and seeing how they fit is the key to long-term success.
  5. It Really Is All About the Kids: We didn’t go to Orlando to dine at the Sloppy Taco Palace, or to sample Rocco’s famous margaritas.  At the end of the day, the conference is a celebration of the champions. Starting when the kids got off their flights from across the U.S. and Canada until the pinning ceremony on the final day, the conference supports the youth who are doing amazing things. Whether it’s fighting a rare form of cancer or supporting a sibling to beat Leukemia. These kids are the true rockstars.

Children’s Miracle Network’s annual conference used to be called Celebration.  A celebration is something you usually do at the end of a journey or test.  But nobody at Children’s Miracle Network believes their work is complete.  And their work won’t be complete until every kid who goes through one of their hospitals chooses their own happy ending.  Momentum, on the other hand, requires mass and it requires velocity.  Or in the case of The Miracle Network, it requires all of their staff, partners, hospitals, and supporters, and even patients, moving in the same direction toward the same goal.  No matter how small or large your organization is, you can not accomplish much without everyone working together in the same direction.  That is when Momentum truly starts to build and your mission becomes unstoppable.