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Revisioning

Mission statements must be revised every 3 – 7 years. While the mission rarely changes, the way the mission statement communicates the mission to the staff, stakeholders, and community must be revised to remain relevant.

Your mission should be reviewed with the same frequency as your mission statement. The entry or exit of a competitor from the market can have an impact on the relevance of some parts of your mission. A new competitor might make part of your mission less necessary because of an overlap in services or your might need to reword your mission statement to better explain the difference between the two organizations. The exit of a competitor might present an opportunity to widen the impact of your mission.

When it is appropriate to change your mission, five questions will help you revise it:

Who should we serve?

What services should we offer?

What changes do we want the services to make in the lives of those we serve?

When do we want the changes in a client’s life to be obvious?

How will we measure and report success to our stakeholders and community?

It is important to have a cross section of individuals answering the questions. Some stakeholders will want to avoid change while others will want to make dramatic changes. The path forward lies somewhere in between. The challenge will be to find the path forward that retains support from all of your stakeholders and attracts new stakeholders. Transitions are time and resource intensive. Retaining stakeholders as well as adding stakeholders is important to maintaining sustainability and build the momentum of your nonprofit throughout a transition.

Whether the preceding questions are answered as part of a group discussion or through one-on-one interviews with a cross section of stakeholders and interested community members is unimportant. What is important is to report the answers to the five questions that ensures the path forward will have broad support from stakeholders and attract new stakeholders.

The speed with which the changes must occur will depend on the specific circumstance surrounding your nonprofit. If the change is being driven by a periodic review or recent changes in your community, there will be limited pressure to make a quick change. If your nonprofit has declining sustainability and a perceived lack of relevance to your community, it is important to make the transition before the level of decline becomes irreversible.

Next Step:

Identify a cross section of stakeholders

Ask for them to help you answer the five preceding questions

Revise your mission, mission statement, vision, strategy, and strategic plan

Write your nonprofit’s new story

When you write your nonprofit’s new story, ensure that it provides the reader with your history, why now is the time to revise your mission, how the change in your mission will create greater value for your community, and how you will be measuring your success. By defining your success measures, you are ensuring that your community and stakeholders will measure your success in the same way you are. It is important that your success measures prove that your mission is making a meaningful, measurable, and durable difference in your community.

Your nonprofit’s desire to make a durable change in your community and the evidence that shows your mission does make a durable difference will help attract and retain donors, which means your nonprofit will have increasing sustainability.

Take It Further:

Ensure your cross section of stakeholders and community members include representatives from each of the important groups within your community

Use an open invitation to invite community members who are interested to also provide input (it will allow individuals who are passionate about causes related to your mission to connect with your mission and expose your nonprofit to unexpected possibilities)

Use the participants’ willingness to provide support (donation, time, referrals, etc.) to help you weigh the importance of their input (willingness to support a recommendation demonstrates an important level of commitment and support)

 

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