Monday, February 16, 2015

The Mission Statement: It Really Is That Important

Did you know that Mission Vagueness is the #1 cause of the decline of public trust in the non-profit sector1, and that “Organization not fulfilling mission” is the 3rd biggest reason why donors stop giving2?

Mission Statement. You've heard the term a thousand times. You generally know what one is and that every non-profit is supposed to have one. But do you - and does your organization - understand the crucial relationship that a Mission Statement has with fundraising?

Let's start by defining what a Mission Statement is.

A Mission Statement is the essence of an organization's existence. It's a clear, concise summary of an organization's raison d'être.

What kind of a world would your organization like to see? A Mission Statement maps out how your organization intends to make that world a reality.

What is the success that your organization works to achieve? A Mission Statement describes how the organization will achieve that success.

At a first glance, it could look like a Mission Statement is something that's just "nice to have". This is a mistake that many non-profits make.

A Mission Statement is essential to fundraising.

Here are 3 reasons why.

1. You need a Mission Statement if you want to attract donors.

Before someone even considers making a gift to your organization, he or she needs to be interested in your organization.

People (and corporations and foundations) give to organizations with missions that match their own priorities. If your organization doesn't have a clear, concise Mission Statement that really sums up who you are and how you change peoples' lives, how will donors (and corporations and foundations) know if they want to give to you or not?

Your Mission Statement should be reflected in all of your written communications (brochures, newsletters, direct mail appeals, etc.) Everyone in your organization should be able to recite your Mission Statement word-for-word so they have a clear and concise way of communicating to the public what your organization is all about.

Maybe you already have a great Mission Statement. Can it be quickly and easily found on your website? Make it easy for people to find. If you don't, you could lose a lot of potential donors.

Did you know that the very first item in the AFP's Donor Bill of Rights is that donors have a right to be informed of the organization's mission?

2. You need a Mission Statement if you're planning a fundraising campaign.

The starting point of any fundraising planning framework is to restate your Mission Statement (and your Vision Statement). From there, you can identify the campaign's objectives and come up with your campaign's strategy, budget, and schedule.

Restating your Mission Statement helps to keep you and your fundraising team focused on and motivated by the reason for the campaign and the campaign's ultimate impact.

3. You need a Mission Statement if you want to have a public image - especially one that is trustworthy.

A Mission Statement shapes your brand. It shapes how you want the public to see your organization. It shapes how you want your staff and board members to talk about your organization in public.

It also helps your public to trust you, and that means more donations. People aren't going to give to an organization that they don't trust.

Interested in exploring Mission Statements further?

Check out Andrea's blog post here to find out how to create the most effective Mission Statement for your organization.

Want to learn how we can help your organization create or revamp its Mission Statement? Contact Andrea today.

1Schlesinger M., Mitchell, S and Gray B.H. (2004) ‘Restoring Public Legitimacy to the Nonprofit Sector: A Survey Experiment Using Descriptions of Nonprofit Ownership’, Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, 33 (4), 673-710.

2Center on Philanthropy (2009). The 2008 Study of High Net Worth Philanthropy: Issues Driving Charitable Activities Amongst Affluent Households, Center on Philanthropy, Indianapolis, Indiana.

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