For a nonprofit organization (or really any organization), the development and communication of a great mission statement is extremely important. These few brief sentences serve as a summary of the aims and values of the organization. Good mission statements are extremely focused and mesh well with overall branding. They can be effective in clarifying purpose, motivating staff and volunteers, and even as an important tool in fund raising. Too often, we have encountered flawed mission statements that fail to capture the spirit of the organization, are convoluted or overly wordy, are forgettable, or are out of date. For new nonprofits or for established organizations that may need to refresh, the mission statement is a great place to start. Get input from your stakeholders. “What is the purpose of this organization going forward? What defines us?” Make sure that it is a project where you can devote meaningful time and energy. Keep the final product concise. Ideally, everyone in your organization knows the mission statement by heart and can rattle it off blindfolded. This task can be a tall order if your mission statement is three paragraphs long. The best mission statements are brief, clear, and state the obvious. Lean on the most talented writers in your group (whether staff, board members, or volunteers). Finally, review your mission statement frequently both to make sure you are adhering to your core values as well as to see when it needs the occasional updating. We adhered to a similar process at Duncan Williams Asset Management and we are very happy with the result: “Serve our clients. Improve our community.” We review our mission regularly, and we remain confident that it captures our aims and values well.
By David Scully, DWAM President and CIO