Your mission statement should be revisited periodically to see if it still works for your organization. It is also imperative that you revisit the mission statement as part of any new planning you may do, such as putting together a strategic plan. Many times organizations "morph" as the realities of actually operating sink in, or as the external environment changes. Your original mission statement may need to be tweaked or even completely rewritten, depending on the circumstances.
An example of a changing environment occurred when polio was obliterated in the U.S. by the Salk vaccine. The March of Dimes had been set up specifically to serve polio victims and search for a cure. As polio was gradually beaten back, the March of Dimes faced an evolving identity crisis. Should they go out of business or change the mission? The organization chose to change the mission, a wise decision since there was a healthy infrastructure in place. The March of Dimes re-focused (see its historical timeline) on preventing birth defects, premature birth, and infant mortality.
Stan Hutton and Frances Phillips, in their Nonprofit Kit for Dummies, recommend that organizations ask the following three questions when revisiting their mission statements:
- Is the problem we set out to solve still a problem?
- Should we make the mission statement more specific, or should we broaden it?
- Is the mission statement flexible enough to allow the organization to change and grow?
A mission statement is your organization's touchstone for everything. Always, as you develop programs, apply for grants, and pursue your ideals, ask yourself if what you're doing fits with your mission. Will this help us accomplish our mission?