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Mission Statement Possible

Posted by Stephen Lemire on September 7, 2013 at 3:15 PM

Your nonprofit’s mission statement needs to succinctly capture the essence and define the purpose of your organization. It should distinctly state what you provide, for whom you provide it, and why you exist.
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The mission statement is a key component of your legal documents and strategic plan. It guides all important organizational decision-making. An effective mission statement provides a mapped out course from which measureable goals and objectives may be developed.
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The mission statement is not your organization’s vision (where you plan to be) because it is written for the here-and-now. It is neither a marketing nor promotional piece. An unclear mission statement can lead to indecision, lack of direction, inability to reach consensus, reduced ability to attract donors, and many other pitfalls.
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Prior to filing for nonprofit status (or sooner if you may need it to seek seed funding), the process to craft the mission statement must be undertaken. My strongest recommendation is to avoid “group-write” and “group-edit” which will stall the process as individuals will haggle of each word and phrase. I like to use the example of the Second Continental Congress. A small committee was formed to craft the Declaration of Independence, but they assigned Thomas Jefferson to draft it. In this way, your committee will have a few key people from the Board of Directors and the executive director to create the draft mission statement.
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From this stage you have options to have the board either: 1) accept or reject as is; 2) choose from a couple variations; or 3) interject a few interchangeable phrases they may wish to use (based on upfront general input they provided before the committee began its work.
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I am partial to a mission statement that contains both a narrow and a broad view. By this, I mean it states primarily who your stakeholders are but also sets out to demonstrate that you have a grander purpose in the respective (market, industry, or field).
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For example, when I was the founding executive director of the National Professional Science Master's Association (NPSMA) I was closely involved in the mission statement crafting and revising:
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“The NPSMA is a collaborative of Professional Science Master's (PSM) degree program directors, faculty, administrators, industry representatives, alumni, and students that supports PSM degree initiatives. It engages businesses, industries, nonprofit organizations, governmental agencies, and trade associations in the development of PSM degree programs and internship and job placement opportunities for PSM students and graduates.”
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As you can see from this example, the narrow view is “supports PSM degree initiatives” while the broader one is “job placement opportunities for PSM students and graduates”. The primary purpose was to help create the programs but the NPSMA needed to, secondarily, create a market for the programs’ graduates.
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Categories: Nonprofits, Associations, Management

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