Membership organizations often find themselves in a position in which they are called upon to do more with less. These associations generally rely on volunteers or contributing members to meet their goals and objectives. This strategy is only effective if an organization remains dynamic and engaging, and conducts itself in a manner consistent with its mission. Failing to do so can cause members and volunteers to be skeptical of your organization’s integrity, driving them—your most valuable resource—away.
Your mission statement is the banner under which all your management decisions must fall. It is also your opportunity to convince longstanding volunteers and new recruits that your organization is worth their time and efforts. When you and your community of members are measuring success and efficacy, these things will be measured against your mission statement. It is critically important, then, to develop a mission statement that unites philosophy, concrete goals, and a call to action.
Answer the 3 W’s
What do we do? Why do we do it? Who benefits from the work we do?
An effective mission statement answers each of these questions with conviction and concision. It establishes your objectives, motivations, and role in the community. This last part—defining your relationships with your members, as well as the wider world of which you are a part—deserves special attention. Distinguishing your community allows prospective and current members to identify themselves as people who belong to the same group. A successful mission statement allows others to align themselves with you, unified in the pursuit of a common cause.
Keep it Short
Like the successful organization that does more with less, a good mission statement says more with less. Consider this benchmark; your mission statement should ideally be able to double as your slogan. Short, precise statements are more memorable and less likely to be bogged down by proprietary language.
When drafting your mission statement, it is a good idea to choose only one goal to highlight. This may be a short-term goal poised to drive active, passionate involvement from members. Or, this may be a long-term goal that encompasses the full scope of your organization’s work. Aiming for this sort of specificity will not only provide a clear picture of your aspirations, it will prevent your mission statement from becoming unwieldy and unfocused.
A mission statement represents a collective of executives, trustees, members, and volunteers. You want everyone in your organization to identify with its mission. The best way to ensure buy-in is to offer opportunities for everyone affiliated with your organization to voice their ideas, concerns, and opinions. Use membership software to provide a forum for lively discussion.
When you request feedback from your members, give it genuine consideration. When you draft your mission statement, gather all the feedback you’ve received and identify trends, as well as signs that the organization is evolving in a new direction. Before implementing significant changes, present your updated statement to your affiliates and encourage constructive responses.