Our four finalists this year exemplify four different approaches to the crafting of a mission statement.
- Cancer Connection (dedicated to encouraging and guiding people living with cancer and their loved ones along the cancer journey, from diagnosis through treatment and beyond) describes its mission in a way that is especially effective for structuring a strategic plan and measuring performance. Last years winner took this approach.
- EDGE Outreach takes a minimalist stance (empowers ordinary people to provide safe, clean drinking water to the world), relying on its mission statement for the impact of a tag line. With a very small tweak it might be even better as a statement of visiona world where everyone has access to clean safe drinking waterbut the notion of empowering ordinary people to become the solution is also a very compelling component of the mission.
- As noted in the finalist post, Mohonk Preserve (to protect the Shawangunk Mountains by inspiring people to care for, enjoy, and explore the natural world) takes an intriguing approach of making broad values and actions (inspiring people to care for, enjoy, and explore the natural world) the means to achieving a more specific goal (protecting a specific natural area). This statement acknowledges the interdependence of the two scales and elegantly frames the context for the organization and the terms of its success.
Our fourthand winningentry, Centerpoint Institute for Life and Career Renewal offers lifelong tools to navigate uncertainty, build meaningful careers, and design courageous lives. It is a vivid statement, in which there are no wasted words. As some of the many comments we received on this entry observed, it is infused with both passion and purpose, specificity and breadth, clarity and ambition.
In addition to the power of it mission statement, Centerpoint has an active group of supporters, who posted a dozen supporting comments on this blog and sent scores of other comments by e-mail. Congratulations, Centerpoint!
With these excellent examples as a stimulus, other nonprofits may want to ask what they can do to change their mission statements from obligatory boilerplate to powerful tools that add value to their cause.
To that end the next few posts will look at the entries in the Mission Statement Makeover category of the competition, and perhaps give a sense of how to think about editing an unwieldy statement.