The mission statement of a nonprofit provides the organization with direction and guidance about why the organization exists, who it serves, etc. In other words, the mission statement expresses the purpose of the organization. All activities, programs and services in which the nonprofit engages can be measured against the mission statement. Using the mission statement as the litmus test can help staff and leaders to understand how a new program or idea fits into the work being done by the organization.
Staff, board members and volunteers need to understand that the mission statement guides all programs and services. If there is a great idea (or a great funding opportunity) that really doesn’t fit with the mission, then it is best left for another organization. This includes those times when the conversation turns to, “well, if we stretch our mission just a bit, then this will fit.” I would encourage you not to do this. When you waffle on your mission, the public becomes confused about who you are and finds it difficult to support your work. One easy strategy is to include the mission statement at the top of every board agenda so that it is front and center when decisions are being made.
As you seek funding for the work being done by the nonprofit or ministry, it is important to make sure that the work aligns with the mission. It doesn’t make sense to seek funds from a funder who has no interest in funding the type of work you are doing. (Funders will often have mission statements as well). Approaching funders whose mission does not align with that of your organization is known as mission drift. And, most funders can see through desperate attempts to get money when your request does not align with your mission.
Instead seek those funding sources that align with your organization’s mission. This can be done by:
- Researching the funding source to determine what their funding interests are. Do these align with the organization’s mission?
- Researching the funding source to determine the geographic area where the funder funds. Does your organization work in this area?
- Identifying the organizations that have been awarded funding in the past from the funding source. This information can be found by reviewing the funders’ IRS 990.
Stay true to your mission. Nonprofits are much more likely to see funding success if they request funds for programs and services that are aligned with their mission.