What does it mean to be mission true? Is your organization staying true to its mission? Before you answer too quickly, let’s look at a definition of “mission true.”
An organization’s mission is its purpose, its reason for existing. An organization’s mission guides the work it does, who it serves and how it serves. To be mission true, an organization measures all opportunities and decisions to be made against its stated mission. All too often, organizations fall into a trap, chasing dollars “stretching” the mission as need.
Unfortunately, when the mission statement is stretched once, it becomes easier and easier to stretch it further and further. Think of a balloon, when a balloon is new, it is tight and difficult to blow up. But, as the balloon is stretched and pulled and blown up, it becomes easier and easier to blow it up. This is great when playing with a balloon, but not so great when it comes to nonprofits and ministries.
Why worry about “stretching the mission statement a bit?” The biggest reason is that organizations often morph into something that doesn’t align with the stated mission AND funders and donors become confused about the real purpose of the organization. Ultimately, this can cause the organization to lose financial support.
A mission true organization is one that carefully measures decisions and opportunities against the organizational mission statement and makes an informed choice to embrace only those opportunities that align with the mission statement.
Mission true organizations do not just happen. It is actually easier to stretch and slide the mission statement than it is to remain mission true. Below is a list of questions you can use when your organization is facing decisions or opportunities to ensure it remains mission true.
- What is our vision for the world?
- What is our mission, how are we working to accomplish the vision we have for the world?
- Who is our targeted audience?
- Where do we serve?
- What methods or strategies do we use to accomplish our mission (stated purpose)?
- How are we different from other organizations?
It is often helpful to periodically answer these questions and to use them as a measuring stick for future decisions and opportunities.
Staying mission true is a lot like the poem by Robert Frost, “The Road Not Taken.” Two roads diverged in the woods and both appeared to be equally appealing, but the road less worn was taken, and that has made all the difference. Sometimes an organization has to take the more difficult road, the road less worn, to stay mission true. And while it may be more difficult initially, in the long run, it will make all the difference.
Feel free to contact us if we can help your organization with its mission statement.