Mission statements are not just part of your institutional wallpaper...looked at once in a blue moon and ignored by your followers.
The authors of Guerrilla Marketing for Nonprofits: 250 Tactics to Promote, Recruit, Motivate, and Raise More Money (Entrepreneur Press, 2010) suggest that most nonprofit mission statements sound "academic or institutional," and ask, "Is reading your organization's mission statement also a good cure for insomnia?"
The antidote for boring mission statements is to recognize that they are part of your marketing and approach them in that way. The Guerrila Marketing authors want nonprofits to repurpose their mission statements by remembering the three things that make your organization successful:
- your passion,
- what you are best at, and
- a clear sense of what is the bottom-line impact you are trying to make.
The key to writing an effective mission statement that is a marketing tool is to distill everything you know about your organization into the answers to just three questions:
- Why do you exist? (passion)
- What does your organization do? (what you are best at)
- What difference does it make? (the impact your nonprofit is making)
When writing your mission statement, make it short (too much information will lose the reader's attention) and think of it as your "elevator" pitch. Imagine that you have entered an elevator and someone asks you to tell them about your organization. What could you say that only takes as long as the elevator does to move from one floor to the next. That's about 30 seconds. If you can't do it in that time frame, your mission statement is too complicated.
Guerrilla Marketing uses the March of Dimes to illustrate how that organization answers the three questions above:
Why do you exist? Our mission is to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth, and infant mortality.
What do you do? We carry out this mission through research, community services, education, and advocacy to save babies' lives.
What difference does it make? March of Dimes researchers, volunteers, educators, outreach workers and advocates work together to give all babies a fighting chance against the threats to their health: prematurity, birth defects, low birth weight.
Try couching your mission statement as answers to these three questions and see if it doesn't help focus your thoughts and make a difference in your marketing.
- How to Write Nonprofit Mission Statements
- Examples of nonprofit mission statements
- Five Ways to Sabotage Your Nonprofit Mission Statement
- How to Write Great Taglines and Mission Statements
- Putting Your Mission in Your Nonprofit Name
- 5 Steps to Defining Your Nonprofit's Brand
- Should You Change Your Mission Statement?