Does your nonprofit mission statement do its job?

Non-compelling nonprofit mission statements are about as common as gray November days in Seattle. Nothing to write home about, and mostly harmless.

Wouldn’t it be nice if mission statements weren’t unreadable, committee-written blobs of jargon, but little jewels that helped motivate donors to care and to give?

Nonprofit Hub has some help for making them more like that, at Nonprofit Mission Statements — Good and Bad Examples. Here are thing elements a mission statement should include:


  1. A Cause or Who You Serve (What matters? Who is important?)
  2. An Action (What are you doing?)
  3. A Result (What change can you see?)

Here are a couple of the examples (there are more, so go see the post):

Good: charity:water

We’re a nonprofit organization bringing clean, safe drinking water to people in developing countries.

Not So Good: Springboard for the Arts

Springboard for the Arts is an economic and community development organization for artists and by artists. Our work is about building stronger communities, neighborhoods, and economies, and we believe that artists are an important leverage point in that work. Springboard for the Arts’ mission is to cultivate vibrant communities by connecting artists with the skills, information, and services they need to make a living and a life.

My test for a useful mission statement: Can a donor (who’s not an insider) tell from reading it exactly what will happen if she gives?


Comments

6 responses to “Does your nonprofit mission statement do its job?”

  1. Tom Ahern Avatar

    I encourage charities to write a “donor-oriented” mission statement. There’s a pretty good chance a visitor to your website might read the thing, just to find out what the heck you are and do. Great opportunity to fold in your organization’s dependence on charity. I wish I had an example to share. They’re rare.

  2. Tom Ahern Avatar

    I encourage charities to write a “donor-oriented” mission statement. There’s a pretty good chance a visitor to your website might read the thing, just to find out what the heck you are and do. Great opportunity to fold in your organization’s dependence on charity. I wish I had an example to share. They’re rare.

  3. Sometimes, a simple re-write can help immensely… There is good stuff there!
    “Springboard for the Arts is a nonprofit organization for artists and by artists. We believe that artists help build vibrant communities. Our mission is to help artists to make a living and a life.”
    I know we’ve all done this – add words that sound important, but dilute impact. Keep what is essential. Cut the “filler.” Edit ruthlessly.
    BTW: This was a great post. Thank you for doing what you do.

  4. Sometimes, a simple re-write can help immensely… There is good stuff there!
    “Springboard for the Arts is a nonprofit organization for artists and by artists. We believe that artists help build vibrant communities. Our mission is to help artists to make a living and a life.”
    I know we’ve all done this – add words that sound important, but dilute impact. Keep what is essential. Cut the “filler.” Edit ruthlessly.
    BTW: This was a great post. Thank you for doing what you do.

  5. Springboard for the Arts connects artists with the skills, information, and services they need to make a living and a life.

  6. Springboard for the Arts connects artists with the skills, information, and services they need to make a living and a life.

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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.

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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.


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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.

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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.

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