Your pointless mission statement

If you’ve ever had the misfortune of being on a committee that struggled to hammer out an organizational mission statement, Dan Pallotta is going to make you feel even worse about your experience.

In his HBR.org blog, he asks Do You Have a Mission Statement, or Are You on a Mission? where the key point is: A person or organization on a mission is inspiring. A mission statement is an abstraction.

I’ve watched nonprofits spill considerable blood and time creating a mission statement. Then, they plaster it everywhere — anything that hard to create must be good, right?

Well, no. Your mission statement is of almost no interest to anyone else. And it might be a substitute for doing real stuff:

[If] your organization spends an inordinate amount of time talking about how to talk about what it does, then maybe it isn’t sure what it does — and some serious soul-searching is in order. Maybe “messaging” has become a distraction. Perhaps there’s some daring goal out there with your name on it that you’re avoiding for fear of failure. But better to fail — mission-statement-less — at some audacious mission, than to have your mission statement all in order while risking nothing.

Pallotta gives as an example some possible mission statement for some well known people and institutions, including Michael Phelps, whose mission statement might be, Exploring the intersection of water dynamics and the human body in a context of competition.

What’s more compelling: A man who swims like a god, or a mouthful of abstract jargon?

If you don’t have a compelling mission, a mission statement is not going to make you effective or interesting. First things first.


Comments

2 responses to “Your pointless mission statement”

Leave a Reply

What this blog is about

The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

Blog policies

Subscribe

Get new posts by email:

About the blogger

Jeff BrooksJeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 35 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com. More.


Archives

Blogroll

Categories


Search the blog

The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

Recent Comments

About the blogger

Jeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 30 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com.

Blog Roll

someone’s blog