Your Purpose. Your Identity. Crafting Your Mission Statement.Nov 23, 2021
Two intersecting messages lead to this week’s post. Each reinforces the belief that your mission is critical to your work.
First, a participant in one of our courses asked me if I could elaborate on my comment that the Board establishes the identity of the organization on behalf of the community. This is done through the regular review of the vision, mission and values of your agency.
Second, researchers have concluded that a primary difference between a for-profit and a not-for-profit organization (and board) is the difference between improving profit and accomplishing mission. (More about this next week.)
So, your mission becomes critical. It is your statement of purpose. Your reason for being, your identity.
What makes your work important and unique.
Returning to our course participant, the mission of her organization is: Connecting people with the world of information and ideas.
And the organization? The Internet? Google? A community centre? Actually, a public library, apparently serving the world. How does one measure success here? Well, of course, you can’t easily, so there is less accountability for staff and the board.
The mission of many not-for-profits might as well be: Love All. Serve All. Save the Planet.
Not exactly a laser focus. This is in fact the motto of the Hard Rock Café, a for-profit corporation.
So how does one craft a mission statement?
A mission statement expresses your purpose, your reason for existence, summarized succinctly in one sentence.
It combines a “why” with a “what” and maybe a “who” – the community need being met and what is being done to meet that need and perhaps for whom specifically. It expresses the difference you are making and the impact you are having.
All in one sentence? Well, yes. And with bold, clear language using active verbs. There should be both emotional and rational connections. And at least implicit recognition of your values.
The mission can thus also be used for marketing and for fund development – especially as it inspires people to act or engage.
Once you have a clear mission statement you can then examine the gaps between current and desired states, with regular monitoring and assessing, what is needed to accomplish your mission – this “mission gap” should be a key element for your strategic planning. Your vision, on the other hand, is a statement of that desired final or future state, what you are ideally moving towards.
One example might be Oxfam (despite some of their recent problems).
Mission: To create lasting solutions to poverty, hunger, and social injustice.
Vision: A just world without poverty.
Another example is the Canadian Cancer Society
Mission: In trusted partnership with donors and volunteers, we improve the lives of all those affected by cancer through world-class research, transformative advocacy and compassionate support.
Vision: Creating a world where no Canadian fears cancer.
So back to that public library… I presume no special knowledge of the particular organization or community but closer to the mark might be:
We enable our community and each individual unfettered access and support for the use of information and ideas for improved decision-making and recreation.
With a vision of: An informed and engaged community.
I have no doubt that you can do better. So just do it!
What are your main “pain points” dealing with your organization’s mission and purpose? How do you measure success?
What advice would be most helpful to you? And we always assume that you are asking for a friend!
Get in touch. We’ll address your questions and concerns in an upcoming blog post.
P.S. May I ask a tiny favour?
Would you mind sharing this blog with one person? I would love it. You can post the links in your Facebook Groups, LinkedIn, or even send an email.
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