I recently saw a great YouTube video from Alease Michelle talking about how she found personal inspiration from Eric Thomas (aka ET The Hip Hop Preacher on Facebook). She put together a 5-minute online video all about the question: “What is my Why?” By the end of her video, I was thinking about non-profit organizations and their WHY, which is what inspired this morning’s post.
Before I start, I thought you might want to check out Alease’s YouTube video first:
The place that you and your donors go answer this question about your non-profit agency is your MISSION STATEMENT.
Mission statements are the most important tool in your organizational toolbox when it comes to explaining why you exist, with whom you work, and what you do. This is different from vision statements, which exist to tell the world where you are going and the vision you have for your community (or the world).
Mission statements are not static. This isn’t a “set-it-and-forget-it” kind of thing. As Alease talks about in her YouTube video, your WHY changes from time-to-time, which means your mission statement should evolve, too (albeit infrequently). For example, there was a non-profit in my hometown that started off more than 100-years ago as an orphanage. When those closed down, this agency evolved into an organization that provided a variety of services for kids with behavioral-issues. Finally, it expanded its scope to serve adults (e.g. those who they were previously serving and just aged out of the program but still needed assistance). With each evolution, their mission statement also evolved.
Another place where you will likely address the question of “What is my why?” is in your case for support document (aka case statement), which is the bedrock of your fundraising program. Simply stated . . . your internal and external case for support documents explain to fundraising volunteers (e.g. internal case) and donors (e.g. external case) what you do and how the dollars being solicited will support those efforts. In other words, it answers the question “what is the donor investing in?” which is essentially “what is my why?” Right?
This exercise is always timely when your board is going through a strategic planning process. However, it can be done at any time. Remember, this isn’t a role/responsibility for staff alone. It is the board of director’s responsibility to set the organization’s mission statement, vision, and case for support.
If your organization is looking at creating or revising its mission statement or case for support, the following are a few online resources that I dug up and think you might find helpful:
- topnonprofits.com: Creating Mission & Vision Statements
- managementhelp.org: Worksheet for Drafting an Organizational Mission Statement
- foundationcenter.org: Establishing a Nonprofit Organization
- thefundraisingauthority.org: How to Write a Case for Support for Your Non-Profit (Part I)
- thefundraisingauthority.org: How to Write a Case for Support for Your Non-Profit (Part II)
- DonorDreams blog: Don’t set the bar too high for your next fundraising appeal
So, have you considered “What is your why?” I would love to hear what that is. I would also love to hear how you tell the world about “your why?“. Please scroll down and use the comment box below to share.
Here’s to your health!
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC
Thanks Steve – this is good stuff. Suzanne
Suzanne . . . I don’t know who Steve is, but I’ll take the stroke. 🙂