Let’s take a 10,000 ft view for a moment and think about what nonprofits are made of. It’s easy to say that we should be “mission driven” or “acting strategically”, and for awhile “vision statements” were all the rage and now everyone’s talking about “impact”. It’s easy to get buried in the day-to-day of running your nonprofit, but these big picture items are crucial to getting the most out of your day-to-day efforts and in this post, I’ll lay it all out so you can get clear on what you need to make your nonprofit thrive!
Let’s start with MISSION!
Your mission is your nonprofit’s core goal. This is the change you are trying to make in the world. Your mission is what you can measure all other efforts against. Do you need to work on your nonprofit’s mission? Take the mission quiz to find out.
- Is your mission memorable? That is… can you recall the gist of it without looking it up? [yes] [no]
- When making a decision, if you ask “is this aligned with our mission?” is the answer obvious? Would a group of people readily get the same answer? [yes] [no]
If you answered “no” to either of these, then you probably need to work on your mission. You may also need to work on your mission if you have decided to take on a new core goal which doesn’t align with your existing mission. Apart from a serious shift in direction, a well constructed mission should endure for many years.
Your organization’s vision describes what it looks like when you achieve your mission. You can write a vision statement or write out what you imagine success looks like in 3, 5, or 10 years. Clarifying vision helps get everyone on the same page in understanding the destination that is your mission. While a well constructed mission should endure year after year, it’s worth re-evaluating and updating your organization’s vision every year.
Values are are really important and clearly identifying your organization’s values can make or break your nonprofit in the long run! If you mission and vision define your destination, your values define the kind of ship you are on. Are you on a rocket ship, a speed boat, a luxury cruise liner, a barge, or a sailboat? Your values are parameters by which you operate. Do you value group decision making or each person taking accountability for specific decisions? Codifying your core values helps give vision to the parameters by which you operate, or your modus operandi. (Pro Tip: defining your values and defining your brand are two sides of the same coin)
Example: PivotGround’s Values
- Transparency and collaboration are the cornerstones of our success.
- We strengthen relationships through compassion and regard for individual agency.
- Everything that grows has a root that grows with it. Address issues at their root.
- A clear finish is a stepping stone into the future.
If we stick to the navigational metaphors, then operations is how the ship’s crew is organized and takes action to move the ship forward. Most of your ability to move toward your mission destination is in your operations, that’s why continually improving operations should get a lot of attention at your nonprofit.
Your strategy is your map with a chart plotted to get you to your destination… your mission. The word strategy is thrown around a lot and often people refer to the specific actions in the strategy and strategy itself, but this leaves us without the power of strategy. The power of strategy is in connecting the path from action to outcome. Without a strategy your nonprofit could be going nowhere fast!
And finally… IMPACT
If you know where you are going, how to get there, and you have your ship moving forward you are bound to hit your destination and BAM! IMPACT made! Easy peasy 🙂 This is probably where we should drop the navigational metaphors because, when it comes to boats, impact is never a good thing, but when it comes to being a nonprofit, impact is what you want!