Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Mission Statement Competition Winner

After discussing the three excellent finalists in the What’s Your Mission? Competition, our panel has awarded the first prize to FriendshipWorks for its mission statement:

…reduce social isolation, enhance the quality of life, and preserve the dignity of elders and adults with disabilities in the greater Boston area.

We really wanted to name all three finalists as winners, because Girls’ LEAP Self-Defense
Empowering girls and young women to value and champion their own safety and well-being.

and the Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago

Inspire and motivate our children to achieve their full potential in the fields of science, technology, medicine and engineering

both have excellent—tightly-written, memorable, compelling, and inspirational—statements.

Next year we may well decide to have multiple categories, allowing us to select mission statements that excel in different ways. This year, though, we have decided to award first place to FriendshipWorks for its mission statement’s combination of several distinct qualities.

The statement is concise, memorable and compelling. It captures the purpose of the organization—the “why”—without getting into the “how”. It is specific enough that existing and prospective programs and services can be evaluated on how well they support the mission as stated. At the same time, it is sufficiently broad to allow for a variety of different programs and services to be developed to serve the mission. This helps trustees and staff to think creatively and strategically about whether the organization is actually investing its resources most effectively and efficiently. If a new program idea is raised, the statement will help to answer the questions of whether it fits this organization’s mission, and how it should be evaluated in comparison to existing programs.

It is rather easy to envision a strategic plan flowing from this mission statement, and also metrics. Three specific intentions are stated, along with two constituencies. From this the organization can generate mission-based goals, supporting objectives and measurable actions. Some of these measures will be outputs, but some should capture outcomes. From this dashboards of critical indicators can be developed to help the staff and board in their ongoing evaluation and process improvement.

Any nonprofit can create a mission statement that will enhance its sustainability by attracting the attention and focusing the energy of existing and potential stakeholders, shaping their perceptions and efforts into momentum for success. It is remarkable how many organizations fail to take advantage of this opportunity.

This year's winner can serve as an excellent model for other organizations. Great job, FriendshipWorks!