Many organizations seem to treat their mission statement the same way they treat their budgets – as solely an exercise, without giving much thought to its significance. In my three decades of involvement with organizations, I have continuously been dismayed by both the way organizations prepare and treat their budgets, and how little thought they give to their Mission Statement.
What is a Mission Statement? Ideally, a Mission Statement should briefly, clearly and concisely state the organization’s case, or in other words, the organization’s reason for being. Many organizations prepare long and tedious copy which they call their Mission Statement, but which in actuality, is more their “biographical sketch.” A Mission Statement should be more like a sound byte. That means that a Mission Statement should be so clear and compelling that an individual can use it, even at a cocktail party or other event, when asked what their organization is all about. The Mission Statement should clearly indicate to potential donors what the organization does and why it is important, and to members and potential members, why it is important and relevant to both belong and get involved more actively.
Mission Statements must be calls to action, eliciting a response from readers. I have seen not-for-profit food bank- type organizations simply state that their mission was to feed the areas hungry and under-served. That type of wording clearly indicates to any reader what the organization does, why it does it, and should elicit a proactive response.
On the other hands, some organizations use wording that is so lengthy that most readers will not even read to the end, and if they do, most would lose interest. I have witnessed organizations that have used multiple paragraphs to describe what their purpose and reason for being was.
It is essential that not-for-profit organizations realize and understand that they compete for potential members and donors attention. The group that tells its story in the most interesting, clear-cut, distinct, and motivating way, will generally attract more involvement, both in terms of people-power, and financial support.
I have witnessed countless organizations that state that they cannot or will not shorten their descriptions, only to witness their leaders and members fail to be able to answer briefly, in a social situation, why someone should either stay involved, become involved, or financially support the cause. Part of any organizations leadership training should be creating a sound byte Mission Statement.
Richard Brody has over 30 years consultative sales, marketing, training, managerial, and operations experience. He has trained sales and marketing people in numerous industries, given hundreds of seminars, appeared as a company spokesperson on over 200 radio and television programs, and regularly blogs on real estate, politics, economics, management, leadership, negotiations, conferences and conventions, etc. Richard has negotiated, arranged and/ or organized hundreds of conferences and conventions. Richard is a Senior Consultant with RGB Consultation Services, an Ecobroker, a Licensed Buyers Agent (LBA) and Licensed Salesperson in NYS, in real estate.