Connections for Success



What is a Mission Statement and What Makes it Effective?
Adam M. Levine

Most people often believe that a charitable organization develops a mission statement for internal purposes with the added benefit of drawing in donations.   However, mission statements not only express the purpose of the charity, but also create the foundation for success.   Charitable mission statements are everywhere, from the organization’s annual report to its fundraising materials.  It is one of the first items that a potential donor sees when viewing an organization’s website.   Being that the mission statement is everywhere, one begins to think, is my organizational mission statement effective?

There is no correct formal for developing a mission statement; however, one thing that all mission statements should include are the elements of why and for whom the charity exists.  Mission statements should be compelling, memorable and function as a public relations tool for the charity.

When developing your organization’s mission statement, you should solicit input both from the community that you are serving as well as staff, volunteers and even the board of directors of your organization.  Next, focus your energy to clarify the purpose and define what the organization seeks to accomplish.  Ask yourself, what is the charity doing, what is the charity about?  A narrowly focused mission statement will ensure that the organization will not take on more than it can handle.  Every few years, review your mission statement to make sure that the mission is still the focus of the organization.  If the organization has changed focus, be open to new ideas and change as the environment and organization has evolved.

If your organization has already implemented a mission statement, the statement should be analyzed for the following items:

  • Avoid using language that only professionals in a particular field would understand.
  • Focus on the organization as a whole and not to a specific group of people that the organization serves.
  • Lastly, avoid general purposes such as “feeding the world” or “educating children” instead, be specific to the nature of the organization.

Overall, your mission statement should be the focal point of your marketing campaign.  Take the time to create a lasting memory so that someone can walk away and remember what the organization is about, be able to communicate it to others and be inspired to donate.

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