Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Strategic Planning 101: Developing a Mission Statement

In an effort to secure funding, small non-profit organizations can easily lose sight of their mission.  The mission statement provides the foundation for strategic planning.  In fact, it provides the foundation for the organization and the work that it performs.

The mission of an organization should be clear, concise and easily understood.  It should be an integral part of the organization.  Every employee and board member should know your organization's mission statement and believe in it.  It should be broad enough to allow for organizational growth, yet narrow enough to provide structure.

Sample A:  The Minus-Vincent Foundation seeks to provide students enrolled in public high schools with the educational tools they need to succeed in a college or university environment.

Sample B:  The Minus-Vincent Foundation seeks to provide services to teens.

Sample C:  The Minus-Vincent Foundation seeks to provide counseling, teen pregnancy prevention, standardized test preparation, and substance use prevention services to adolescents, ages 14-17 who are enrolled at Franklin Roosevelt High School.

Which mission statement provides a concise overview of the agency's purpose?  Sample A.  

Sample A tells you the population the Foundation seeks to serve and the type of services it intends to provide.  Unlike Sample B, it provides some specificity, letting you know that the focus is on education and that enrollees must attend a public school.  Sample C provides too much specificity (it is more of an objective). Sample C locks the Foundation into limited services and severely limits the population to be served.  Sample C will not allow the Foundation to grow. 

A mission statement is critical to an organization.  It should be well thought out and created with the input of your relevant stakeholders.

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