In my last article, I briefly discussed each of the 10 Basic Responsibilities of Nonprofit Boards. Today, and in subsequent discussions, we’ll look more closely at several of those responsibilities to give you an idea of how important they are and how they can take your nonprofit from good to great.

Determining and Advocating for Your Nonprofit Mission

The nonprofit board, not the staff, is responsible for ensuring that the organization’s mission is clearly and articulately stated and totally supported. A good measure of how effective this is, is to ask each board member to describe your mission as accurately as possible compared to the actual written one. What is your estimate of how many can do that? Your mission should drive both the board’s and management’s planning and initiatives. And, if most of your board cannot articulate the mission to donors and prospects, how can they be effective in garnering financial support?

Mission Vs Vision

Can you and your board distinguish between your vision and mission? Simply stated, there is a major distinction between an organization’s mission (why it exists and the need it is meeting) and its vision (what its community will look like if its mission is achieved). Your mission statement should be clear, succinct and brief. In my experience, if your mission statement is longer than three sentences, it needs to be reviewed and, more than likely, re-written.

Stake Holders Input

When you enter into the exercise of revising your mission, it’s important to consult all your major stakeholders: board, staff, clients, major donors, members and community leaders to ensure that your revised statement reflects the current needs and priorities of your entire constituency. Nothing can be more damaging than to declare a mission statement that is already irrelevant to its constituents and supporters.

Nonprofit Board Advocacy

Remember, your mission is why your organization exists, and it must be supported and advocated for by your entire board and its individual members. Does your nonprofit board have an “elevator pitch,” a statement that can be communicated clearly to someone with whom a board member rides an elevator from the lobby to the 10th floor? That may sound superfluous, but how else are your best and most ardent supporters going to get their message across about their passion for the organization? If they are not familiar or comfortable enough with your mission statement to do that easily and effectively, they will not be successful ambassadors or advocators for your organization.

We Can Help

Are you unsure of how effective your mission statement is with your nonprofit board and donors? Do you believe it’s time to revisit and update it? If so, call or write me for information on how to accomplish that most effectively by including all stakeholders in the process. Our role at Mirenda & Associates is to assist you in taking your organization from good to great.