In real estate, the dictum is, “Location. Location. Location.” In philanthropy, it is “Mission. Mission. Mission.”

The origin of the word mission is “to be sent for a purpose.” Even when an organization’s mission statement sounds clear and to the point, it is easy to get off track and off mission.

In fact, it is easier to veer off course than to stay aligned with the mission.

Deviating is natural. Keeping all eyes on the mission takes intentionality. Here are tips for doing just that:

Make a statement

Crafting and establishing a mission statement is not a one-time to-do. Volunteers, staff, board members, donors and the community should be continually reminded why the organization exists. They need to understand and internalize the mission. “This is who we are and what we do.” The mission should be an integrated part of the organization’s culture. So, create a system whereby new people are made aware of the nonprofit’s foundational mission.

Ensure mission drives activity (not the reverse)

Staying busy is not the same as being productive. Activity doesn’t equal outcomes. Use the mission (who we are and what we do) to inform your activities – not only what gets done, but what activities are not essential. Before taking on new tasks or programs, determine whether they fall within the organization’s purview.

Fundraising is the means, not the end

Fundraising is essential to support the mission, but it is the horse, not the cart. Use annual strategic planning sessions to remind everyone what matters: the individuals and communities served. Then plan fundraising activities accordingly.

It may sound easy, but it can be challenge for nonprofits to know how far off mission they may have veered. This is just one benefit of inviting professional counsel to offer an objective point of view.

Let us know if Hartsook can offer fresh eyes, so you can remain focused on your mission.

Louis J. Gehring, MM, CFRE
Executive Vice President
Kansas City
[email protected]