For a nonprofit, the mission statement provides the purpose of the organization. Typically, the mission statement answers the question “why.” Why do we exist? Why do we do what we do? Unfortunately, far too many organizations have a mission statement that does not clearly articulate their purpose and leaves people confused and unsure about why the organization exists.
Ideally, a mission statement should be just one sentence that sums up the purpose of the organization. It should be memorable…each person affiliated with the organization should be able to repeat the mission and it should stand up against every service or program of the organization. In other words, only those programs or services that put the organization closer to fulfilling its mission should be pursued. Staying true to the mission or purpose of the organization helps donors and other stakeholders to “buy-into” your work. Characteristics of effective mission statements include:
- Clarifies – Provides direction in the face of conflicting priorities and plans
- Enforceable – Alignment with the mission statement can guide your daily decision making
- Achievable – Progress toward fulfillment of the mission is observed and measured
- Transferable – The mission can be owned by others…not just the current executive director or board of directors
Quite often, when organizational leadership takes its eyes off the mission, the organization loses its focus and gets off course.
The most effective nonprofit organizations stay true to their mission statements. How is your organization doing in this area?
It may be time for a mission check…give us a call, we will be happy to spend some time with your leadership to guide you to tweak or re-define your mission to ensure it adequately reflects the work of your organization.