What is the purpose of the nonprofit’s mission statement? You are correct if you immediately thought that the mission statement is the reason the nonprofit exists. In other words, the mission statement is the statement of purpose for the organization and sets your organization apart.
All too often, I see nonprofits struggling with their mission statement as they make decisions that lead the organization to “drift” away from their stated purpose. So, what is the harm?
As stated above, the mission statement exists to guide the work of the nonprofit. The mission statement helps everyone associated with the organization—staff, board members, volunteers, donors, and clients to understand its purpose. When the nonprofit drifts from its mission, for whatever reason, a disconnect can occur. Staff may feel conflicted about their roles and how to provide services. Donors may decide that they can no longer support the work of the organization.
Clearly, unconscious mission drift is not positive for nonprofits. But, what if the organization needs to change? We recommend that all nonprofits spend time annually to review their mission statement to look at how the organization is functioning and to determine if the mission is still relevant. During this review process, the organization will want to look at current trends in their area of service, what they are doing well and what challenges they face. From there, the organization may want to make changes to their mission statement. It should be noted that I am not suggesting that the organization completely change its area of focus…for instance, a food pantry is probably not going to change their purpose to serving stray animals. But, there are times when a nonprofit may want to modify or tweak their mission to more accurately reflect the work of the organization.
Do you need help reviewing your mission statement? Give us a call, we can work with you and your board of directors to ensure your mission statement accurately reflects who you are and what your purpose is.