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5 Questions for Nonprofits: Start with What Is Our Mission

Peter Drucker offers the “Five Most Important Questions You Will Ever Ask About Your Nonprofit Organization.” We start with the first question.

What Is Our Mission?

"To satisfy the customer is the mission and purpose of every organization

[The mission statement] focuses the organization on action…. It alone can prevent the most common degenerative disease of organizations … splintering their always limited resources on things that are interesting or look profitable rather than concentrating them on a very small number of productive efforts." - Peter Drucker

The Successful Nonprofit Mission Statement

  • Focuses the organization on action

  • Creates a disciplined, aligned organization

  • Prevents the organization from wasting limited resources

OK. I understand you already have a great mission statement.

Nonprofits (unlike most for-profit businesses) understand their mission.

But what if you could improve the impact of the statement?

A Mission Statement with a Twist:

Add 3 Economic Priorities with a Deadline

The fact is most mission statements are elusive and lack a sense of urgency.

Adding 3 economic goals with a deadline creates a destination with a sense of urgency. They focus you on action that contributes to the mission.

  • When you emphasize the mission while including economic priorities, your team and supporters see the connection. Economic priorities support the mission.

  • Talking about economic priorities regularly, keeps your team engaged and the deadline creates a sense of urgency

  • Without money, the doors close

A Formula That Works

We will accomplish (list 3 - economic priorities) by (deadline) because of (mission).

When nonprofits use this formula, you effectively enter economic priorities for your organization, you include a realistic deadline that increases a sense of urgency, and you define why the work is important.

Example: will engage X new community partners to recruit volunteers for the pantry, engage Y schools to hold seasonal food drives, and raise $Z by September 1, 2024, because nourishing hungry neighbors is the first step to building stronger lives.

An economic priority doesn’t not need a dollar amount. In-kind resources such as increasing volunteers or offering food drives increase the economic impact without hiring more staff or purchasing food.

What 3 economic priorities will you include to your mission statement?

Remind Your Team

Every week, leaders need to recite the mission statement with 3 economic priorities and deadline as a reminder to leaders, staff, and key volunteers. Keep everyone up to date on the progress.

A Final Note

Some nonprofits are uncomfortable making the change from a traditional mission statement. If there is resistant to change, keep your tradition mission statement for your website.

Rename the new statement, your Economic Priority Statement.

You still need to remind everyone each week about the economic priority statement.

Wes Legg

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