MISSION: WHO YOU ARE
In the nonprofit world your mission is YOU.
It isn’t just a cute and concise paragraph appearing on your organization’s letterhead. It represents what you are in the business of doing, and what will not waver from, or change, during the life of your cause. It guides all of your decisions and keeps you focused on your customers.
Before you can seek out supporters for your cause, you need to have a clear idea of your mission. Your ability to BELIEVE in a mission is how you demonstrate confidence. Having a clear and concise mission is key to your ability to educate and inspire prospective donors.
If confidence is sexy in the dating world, then confidence in your cause’s mission is the key ingredient to attract supporters. Potential donors will find you sexy! From my experience, the number one compliment a fundraiser gets on the job is not “You could sell ice cubes to Eskimos” or “You are a smooth talker”. The way to gauge if you are confidently “selling” your cause is if you are told by an admirer that, “I see you are passionate about your work” or “I see you believe in the cause”.
CREATE YOUR MISSION STATEMENT
Our goal here isn’t to come up with a mission statement for your letterhead but rather go-to language for you to use in conversation when introducing your cause to others. Kevin Starr, CEO of the Mulago Foundation and the Rainer Arnhold Fellows Program [SOURCE] likes extreme brevity for mission statements in the form of 8 word statements, so this seems like a good application to come up with a brief and succinct mission statement.
According to Starr, this 8 word mission statement should be made up of a VERB, TARGET POPULATION, and an OUTCOME that implies something to measure. Also, the statement is about “what” and not “how”. Starr acknowledges the tendency for people to jump into the “how” of making the world a better place because it is what drives their passion, but we first need to determine what change is taking place before exploring how it is being changed.
Here are a few great examples:
Wounded Warrior Project: To honor and empower wounded warriors.
Livestrong: To inspire and empower people affected by cancer.
The Humane Society: Celebrating Animals, Confronting Cruelty.