Can you be on a mission without a vision?

vision, missionAs you know, dear reader, I have a love/hate relationship with Mission Statements.

Last year, after much existential and linguistic dithering, rather than acting like nonprofits could simply ignore the fact that their mission statements might stink, I came down in favor of nonprofits coming up with mission statements that were worthy of their work.

After becoming fully disheartened by the fact that nearly 50% of nonprofits have mission statements that are technically incomprehensible, I wrote this post and this one and this one and ended up hosting a Worst Mission Statement Contest…all in the spirit of teaching nonprofits how to craft clear, compelling mission statements. Heck, it’s largely why I created the ding dang Wordifier!

To be clear: convoluted mission statements aren’t just irritating, they’re costly because if supporters can’t quickly and easily understand what you’re about, they won’t engage.

Equally, if not more, distressing is that it would seem the root cause of the lame language in mission statements is the absence of a clearly articulated vision. Without a clear vision, how can you come up with a kick ass mission? I share my thinking in this week’s podcast.

What are your thoughts on this whole vision/mission conundrum?

Raising money isn’t a goal

fundraising, non profits, marketing, goals, strategy, tactics

You raise money SO THAT you can make a difference.

Yesterday, we kicked off the latest Accelerator.

Setting goals is a BIG part of what we do on Day #1. Because if you’re not clear on your goals, you won’t get good results.

Raising more money is generally high on participants’ List o’ Goals. And so we always talk a lot about retention, acquisition, balancing the two, etc.

If, like them, fundraising is one of your goals, BEWARE! You’re risk of falling into a very tempting trap: believing that raising money is an end goal. It’s not. It’s a means to an end.

You raise money SO THAT…you can lessen summer learning loss.
SO THAT…struggling families can access life-changing resources.
SO THAT…we have forests to hike in and streams to play in.
SO THAT…small business owners can become financially fluent.
SO THAT…kids learn to express themselves through arts so they can thrive in school and in life.

In the day-to-day craziness of grant writing, donor stewardship, event planning and the like, it’s to forget that fundraising has a higher purpose.

Always finish the sentence: “We’re raising money SO THAT…”

What’s your SO THAT?

Don’t train for a marathon by biking

goals, strategy, tactics, marketing, messaging, leadership

Make your training support your goals.

At the risk of stating the obvious: when you’re training for a marathon, you run. You run a lot. You run so you’re ready for the marathon. So you’ll achieve your goal.

You don’t bike. (Aside from a little cross-training perhaps.)

If your goal is to retain donors, pick tactics that will help you connect with current donors. Don’t get distracted by engaging new ones.

Ditto for volunteer engagement.
Advocacy.
Public awareness.
And any other goal you have.

Don’t do the equivalent of training for a marathon by riding your bike.

You’ll never get to the finish line.

Is your mission guiding or motivating?

mission, marketing, communications, fundraising

Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

When something is “mission-driven”, it means it is guided by mission: mission-driven strategy, mission-driven communications, mission-driven staff.

When something is “mission-motivated”, it means the mission offers a motive for action: mission-motivated messaging, mission-motivated marketing, mission-motivated fundraising.

Be clear on when your mission is guiding and when it is motivating. There’s a big difference.

Word of the Week: Consistency

Consistency is key for exercise, parenting and, yes, that’s right, messaging.

Yes, consistency is your BFF when it comes to making your messaging stick. Depending on who you listen to, adults have to hear something three to seven times before we remember it.

If you’re switching up your messaging all the time, how’s someone going to fall in love with your organization? They won’t even remember who you are!

This is why consistency will star as our Word of the Week.

How consistent is your messaging? If you’re not sure, do an inventory and find out. (Sounds boring but is quite fascinating!)