Your Mission: The Superhero

As the executive of your nonprofit, you have the ability and responsibility to be one of the authors of your nonprofit’s story and one of the creators of your nonprofit’s future.

As the executive, you share your responsibility for authorship and creation with the board and other senior professionals.  Since your tenure with your nonprofit will probably be longer than any of your current board members’, you are also the leading influence.

Board service primarily affects the social resume of your members.  However, your work at your nonprofit affects your professional resume.  Your have a vested interest in the quality of the story and the value your nonprofit creates from its story.

Your nonprofit’s story is a little about its history, a little about what it is currently doing, and mostly about what it plans to do.  It is much more than the mission statement and vision although those are key elements in the story.  Your nonprofit’s story focuses on where your vision is going to take your mission, community, and clients.  The story tells the listener how the programming and donors are going to propel the mission and clients forward.  It tells the community how much better life will be for the community and the client after each client completes his or her journey.  The story ends with how much more there is to do and how added support will be beneficial to the community and clients.

You know the potential of your nonprofit better than anyone.  As a result, you are the best person to tell the story.  The other leaders (board and senior staff) need to be co-authors with you.  All of the authors must have a sense of ownership so that they will be committed to and inspired by the story.

All of the authors also have roles as creators.  Their sense of ownership in your joint creation will help to ensure they want to contribute to the creation process.  While everyone who contributes to the story has an interest in the creation process, no one has a greater interest than you.

Next Step:

Outline your nonprofit’s story (use your mission, clients, and vision as the inspiration)

Ask your co-authors to help you flesh out and refine the story

Ask your co-authors to help you design the creation plan

Once you have your story and creation plan, share them with your stakeholders.  Remember that you will need multiple versions of the story and creation plans.  Each stakeholder group has different priorities, expectations, and interests so they need a story with a slightly different emphasis.

When the promises of your story are actualized by your creation process, your nonprofit will have made a meaningful, measurable, and durable impact on your community.  As your plan reaches meaningful milestones, you will notice an increase in your nonprofit’s sustainability, community support, and the perception of mission relevance by your stakeholder groups and community.

Think of community engagement, increased sustainability, donor generosity, donor loyalty, and more donors as the benefits of bringing a well-written story to life.  You can measure how well your story is written by the number of stakeholders and community members the story inspires.

Tell your community why your nonprofit is one of its superheros.

Take It Further:

Rewrite your nonprofit’s story every year about 6 months after the new board members are installed (it helps to create a sense of ownership and by then they should know enough to be comfortable contributing to the story)

Invite a few of your donors to be part of writing the story (it will raise their potential to be enthusiastic supporters of the creation process)


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