I’ve seen too many instances where you could easily substitute the name of a competitor in another organization’s mission statement. It’s not unusual to find a lot of “me-too” or similar sounding missions for organizations in the same industry.
This was the situation for one of my nonprofit clients, and here’s how we handled it.
While its organizational charter was somewhat unique, the group’s services overlapped with several other nonprofits. The result was its members, donors, and even board members all had trouble explaining how the organization was different from others in the market.
What’s Your Score?
To illustrate the problem, I developed a “Mission Matching Quiz” for the board’s executive committee retreat. After a web search turned up hundreds of nonprofits offering similar education, research & support services, I selected 10-12 organizations (many fairly well known) and listed them on a sheet of paper with their mission statements in random order. The exec committee was asked to match each organization with its mission.
No one scored 100% on this quiz or even came close … ditto for the rest of the board members and staff. But everyone was astounded by this demonstration in which almost every organization’s mission read & sounded the same! No wonder they were challenged in distinguishing their own organization.
As a result, the group clarified its mission to highlight and better articulate its differentiation. Board leadership continues to refine the mission as needed.
Maintaining & Changing Your Mission
A mission statement is dynamic. As the market changes, as your competition changes, and as your organization evolves in response, you’ll need to update your mission. This is why Peter Drucker encouraged organizations to revisit their mission statements every three years.
When is the last time your organization reviewed its mission? And how memorable & meaningful is it?