This topic contains 13 replies, has 5 voices, and was last updated by  bmcgill 7 months ago.

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  • #10643

    Claire Axelrad
    Keymaster

    The New Year is a time to get organized and set goals. Everything you do emanates from your mission statement. Does yours really reflect what you do? Is there agreement around what it says, and how it says it? Could it be written more succinctly? More compellingly?

    If you could describe what your organization does in a few key word phrases, what would those be?  Willing to put your mission statement out there to see what others take away? Can they tell what you do?

    Let’s critique each others’ mission statements a bit, so you can begin to take a fresh look at your own.

    #10677

    bmcgill
    Participant

    Here goes:

    Highfields provides opportunities for children, youth and families to be more responsible for their own lives and to strengthen their relationships with others.

    Can you tell what we do?

    #10678

    bmcgill
    Participant

    Do you have examples of great mission statements?

    #10681

    Claire Axelrad
    Keymaster

    Most of what I’ve learned about mission statements comes from Kay Sprinkel Grace, fundraiser extraordinaire and a mentor to me. She, in turn, learned from Hank Rosso, founder of The Fundraising School. I had the great privilege to learn from him as well. I share with you here what I’ve learned.

    Mission statements that describe only the function of an organization need to frame that function with the purpose: why does an organization exist? What need is being met? While some values are present in a statement of what an organization does, the core values that will ignite interest are more boldly expressed in a statement of why the organization exists. The Fund Raising School, a program of Indiana University’s Center on Philanthropy, has generated the seminal work in values-based mission statements. Its basic course materials include numerous examples of statements which answer the question, “Why do you exist?”

    Two Examples of Values-Based Mission Statements
    Over the years, certain organizations have framed and used mission statements which are powerful invitations to invest. Vector Health Programs of Eureka, California, which specializes in procedures for repairing severe injuries to hands, developed one nearly 15 years ago that, although now longer in use, remains a stunning model. Its Executive Director at that time, Karen Angel, prepared it as part of a workshop exercise with Kay Sprinkel Grace. Her initial mission statement, which was a description of Vector’s services, was challenged as not answering the “why” question and lacking an expression of core values. She wrote the following in response to the question, “Why do you exist?”

    “Next to the human face, hands are our most expressive feature. We talk with them. We work with them. We play with them. We comfort and love with them. An injury to the hand affects people personally and professionally. At Vector Health Programs, we give people back the use of their hands.”

    The statement went on to describe how Vector restores the use of people’s hands. The board chair, hearing this statement the first time, was moved to tears. She said she had not realized, until then, just why she was involved. The mission statement had intersected with, and revealed, her values of full participation in life, love, work and play.

    In another example, Yale University School of Medicine positioned this values-based mission statement as the lead to its case materials for a capital campaign conducted nearly three decades ago, when the scientific world was in the beginning of the explosion of knowledge about genetics. Like Vector’s, time has not tarnished its luster as a strong example of an excellent mission statement:

    “We are in the midst of one of the most profound intellectual revolutions of all time, the revolution in the biological sciences. Its implications for understanding life processes and for combating disease are boundless. Yale is in the forefront of this revolution.”

    Succinct and potent, this brief statement reflects values of excellence, innovation, and involvement, and invites those who share those values to participate in the campaign.

    #10682

    Claire Axelrad
    Keymaster

    Honestly, I can’t tell what you do. I know you work with children, youth and families. I don’t know if you’re a school, center, social services agency or something else. Nor do I know the ultimate purpose of becoming responsible and building relationships with others.

    What are your core values? How would you and other leaders in your organization complete this sentence:
    “(Our organization) exists because…..” What is the need you’re addressing, and why is that need critical?

    There is a story from Black and Decker that sums up this approach. It concerns the Black and Decker drill, and the way in which sales associates are trained to sell it. They are asked, “Why do people buy a Black and Decker drill?” The answer most immediately given is, “Because they want a drill.” But that is not the right answer. The reason people buy a Black and Decker drill, the trainees learn, is “Because they want a hole.” It is the same with nonprofit organizations. People need to see what need we fulfill before they will invest in what we do. Just as they only buy a drill if they want a hole, they only invest in our organizations if what we provide is something they see as important to themselves and/or the community.

    #10685

    thezim
    Participant

    To ensure the perpetuation of egalitarian Jewish worship and prayer, Jewish community, education and family life within the precepts of Conservative Judaism, and in the traditional role of the synagogue.

    A bit long winded but I think it is clear and unambiguous.

    #10687

    Claire Axelrad
    Keymaster

    Thanks for sharing Thezim. I like that it’s values-based. I’d agree it’s a bit wordy. You could probably eliminate “within the precepts of Conservative Judaism, and” and just add in the word “Conservative” to modify the word “synagogue.” Thanks for sharing. 🙂

    #10689

    gidskin
    Participant

    Our mission is the maintenance and improvement of the park with a focus on supporting and executing projects and activities that contribute to the physical and mental well-being of our urban population…while protecting and preserving the park as a historic landscape.

    #10690

    Claire Axelrad
    Keymaster

    This mission statement for your park does make it clear that you’re a park! In terms of expressing the values underlying why it’s important for your park to be maintained and improved, it could be strengthened to speak more to the “why.” You do express it in “executing projects and activities that contribute to the physical and mental well-being…,” but the language could be punched up a bit.

    As to the part about “preserving the park as a historic landscape,” why is this important? Is it about the history? Or about preserving the quality of open space for everyone’s enjoyment? The language is just a bit wooden.

    I went online to see what Central Park NYC has to say. It’s not quite incorporated into their mission statement, but one line jumped out at me under their “About Us”: “Healthy cities need parks, and parks need management.” I found this language for Golden Gate Park: “picturesque public space where city dwellers can relax and reconnect with the natural world.”

    Do you see the difference? What do you think?

    #10700

    Claire Axelrad
    Keymaster

    Just came across this on “Movie Mondays” with a great example of why missions statements, to be effective, must come from a place of values; not processes. They must speak to the “why” of your existence, not the “how.” http://moviemondays.com/112-mission-statement/?inf_contact_key=5b512d64a59797b0a88470c6ed9c69ed21a56b873556d520edd9af26e5beb57c

    #10708

    ejcapelle
    Participant

    Here’s my organization’s mission statement: Goodwill provides training, employment and supportive services for people with disabilities or disadvantages who seek greater independence.

    #10711

    Claire Axelrad
    Keymaster

    This Goodwill mission statement makes it clear first HOW you do things; then WHY, sort of. Does “greater independence” mean a path out of poverty?

    Take a look at the mission statement for Goodwill of San Francisco, and let me know your thoughts:
    We create solutions to poverty through the businesses we operate.

    They then go on to describe how they do and who they serve:
    How We Do It

    We open doorways to jobs for local people in need. Goodwill provides job placement services and structured on-the-job training for people ready to transform their lives. Called The Goodwill Way, our proven method moves people from hopelessness and dependency to confidence and stability through the power of work.
    Who We Serve

    We focus on those who have been out of work for a long time due to homelessness, military service, single parenting, incarceration, addiction, or job displacement. For many, Goodwill is often a last hope. We help them migrate from public assistance to paycheck, become self-sufficient, and take part in supporting their families and communities.

    #10712

    gidskin
    Participant

    Thanks so much, Claire. Yes, we did punch it up and we do try to get the “why” we are doing this in all our letters etc.

    #10713

    bmcgill
    Participant

    I wasn’t surprised that you can’t tell what we do by our mission statement “Honestly, I can’t tell what you do. I know you work with children, youth and families. I don’t know if you’re a school, center, social services agency or something else. Nor do I know the ultimate purpose of becoming responsible and building relationships with others.” We are all of those things you mentioned – inhome counseling, after school programs in several counties, a residential program, an alternative school, etc. Thanks for your feedback. We’ll work on it!

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