After my last post about how to create an inspiring mission you might be asking yourself, “Why should I have a mission that is short, exciting, and memorable?” Let’s look at two reasons.
Flickr Photo Credit: tonyhall
2 Reasons a Mission Must Be Short, Exciting, and Memorable:
- As good and important as you think your work is, not everyone is going to be as passionate about your project as you are. So, when you have a clear and succinct mission, it becomes easy for the people who want to help to opt in and the people who don’t want to get involved are able to stay away.
- When you have a mission that is short and succinct it allows you to talk about your organization in a way that helps others know what you are doing, thus allowing them to figure out if they want to help. This is important because people hear information about all kinds of great nonprofits in the community. Your mission is what will or will not hook them. How many times have you sat at church and heard several announcements for good work going on in the community where your help was needed?
A story which illustrates that people often hear of lots of programs took place once when I was giving a presentation to ask for money for a program I was working with. I had done what I thought was a great presentation of about 15 minutes about our organization, what we do for work, how we were changing lives, and how the audience could support our work. After my presentation the president of the company wanted to “remind” the staff that they had several other philanthropic efforts going on. She proceeded to tell them about the clothing collection they were doing for a neighboring school, about how they needed volunteers for their Salvation Army Kettle site, she reminded them that they were collecting food for another school, and then another lady wanted to remind everyone they they were still looking for people to purchase Christmas toys at the mall for kids.
As you can guess, there were a bunch of projects which were all pitched to that audience within a short period of time. In that environment you must have an inspiring mission that will grab the attention of people in a way that causes them to want to get involved with your work.
Another important aspect of your inspiring mission is that it does not have talk about everything you do. Your mission is the overall goal or dream of your work, but does not necessarily have to encompass all of the work you do.
An example of this is how at United Way of Stanislaus County we try to sometimes tell people about all the work that we do. We try to tell them that we have 24 Partner Agencies, 42 programs we fund, that we work to advance the common good in the areas of education, income, and health, and that we want people to do that by giving, advocating, and volunteering, and in addition to that we have five direct service programs which are our Volunteer Center, 2-1-1 help-line, FamilyWize Prescription Discount Cards, Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA), and our Bank on Stanislaus County programs. And, when we visit these people a year later, we wonder why no one remembers what we do! Because we told them about all our work they can’t remember everything, so they end up remembering nothing.
As a result, I have developed my own way of saying what we do at United Way: we fund programs that help people in need. That is short, exciting, and memorable. Another example is North Point Community Church’s mission: to create churches that unchurched people love to attend. Similar to my my example at United Way, this is not a complete statement. Of course they do much more work than simply create a church that unchurched people love to attend, but their mission is their mission because it is short, exciting, and memorable.
Once you have your inspiring mission statement, share it. Post it everywhere as a way to share with others what you are doing and how you are helping. Share it at the beginning of your meetings, on your website, on your flyers, in your presentations.
Question: How have you created a mission statement for your organization that is short, exciting, and memorable?