Mission Statements

Trust Me?

Professionals for Nonprofits released a study about the status of nonprofit employment in New York, New Jersey, and Washington DC.  The report released the Top Ten Essentials for nonprofit employees which suggests some interesting priorities.  Number one and two are intangible qualities.  Trust is a feeling.  There is no accreditation process to measure outright trust.  The Better Business Bureaus, Charity Navigator, and other certification organizations review past operational behavior but do not award a merit based on trust.   Mission statements come in second on the Top Ten list.  These narratives provide each organization with the opportunity to define its purpose.  Both trust and mission statements speak to the importance of an enterprise being able to articulate what it believes and then acting in accordance with their stated beliefs.  Even the trust formulas I offered last month are based on intangible attributes.  If you want engaged employees, volunteers, donors, and fans the importance of defining purpose and developing trust cannot be overlooked.

A Fine Bottle of Wine

I was a presenter at a conference focused on nonprofits and foundations yesterday. My good friend Mark at ClearRock Capital has been a great advocate to the nonprofit sector and hosted this event for years. I always learn something from the other presenters and appreciate the opportunity to create a fun and dynamic presentation (at least my perception).

As I drove home from the conference I started thinking about how to enhance my presentation. I started thinking about the challenge of creating a mission statement, I reflected on how challenging this process is for most organizations. How does an organization state what cause it meets and yet make it inspiring? I started thinking about the marketing on a bottle of wine. If you read the label on many bottles of wine they tell you that it not only contains a specific varietal of wine but also goes to lengths to describe the wine in unique and juicy adjectives. Some labels also add descriptions about the vineyard, proprietor and wine maker. The rich details makes you want to uncork and sample the ‘art’ inside (because the description has made you realized that it is far more than just grape juice).

What language do you have to describe your organization’s work? Is it as appealing as a good bottle of wine? Do people naturally ask you to tell them more? Have you engaged the right people to tell your story?