Thursday, November 14, 2013

Finalists in the Fourth Annual Mission Statement Competition

This year I invited four consultants who are excellent regular presenters for Nonprofit Webinars to join me in reviewing entries to the Great Mission Statement Competition:
     Claire Axelrad, Clairification
     Michele Levy, brand strategy consulting
     Dalya Massachi, Writing for Community Success
     Eyal Ronen, Spotlight Leadership

Last week we sifted through the entries and managed to pick six semi-finalists. I presented them last Wednesday in the webinar What’s a Mission Statement Worth?

Help us to pick the winner

Please take a look at the finalists (below) and help us to select the best of the best. To weigh in, submit comments to this blog. You’re welcome to make a case for your organization’s mission statement, but no anonymous comments please. We will consider only attributed comments, and post only ones that make a case for why the statement meets either the criteria for excellence summarized below or your own.

As described in What’s a Mission Statement Worth?, in various posts in this blog (search for “mission” to see prior year winners and makeovers), and in Critical Issues#7: On Mission, a good mission statement articulates the essence of why you exist. It can encompass what you are, but should avoid what you do and how. And it is:

     Simply stated


     Sufficiently broad
     Appropriately focused

The contenders

In selecting the semi-finalists for the competition this year, the judges have offered words of praise, and also suggestions for a few tweaks here and there. First the three impressive semifinalists that missed the final round by a hair:

The semi-finalists

Community Housing Partnership
Community Housing Partnership’s mission is to help homeless people secure housing and become self-sufficient.
     Eyal: Simple, direct, descriptive.
     Claire: It’s straightforward and hints at their underlying values—safety, lasting solution, not a bandaid.
     Dalya asks whether it is perhaps a bit too simplified and dry.

Ovarian Cancer Alliance of Florida
The Ovarian Cancer Alliance aims to ignite the fight against ovarian and all gynecological cancers.
     Michele: This is a short, bold declaration.
     Eyal: The word "“ ignite” clearly marks your particular spot in this effort.
     Claire: “Ignite the fight” is poetic and memorable. The statement indicates a change they’re working toward and the problem they want to eradicate.
     Dalya also likes the energy of “Ignite the fight.”

Sun Valley Lodge
To provide affordable quality living choices for seniors in a trusting environment.
     Claire: [This statement] give[s] a sense of values (affordable, high quality, trusted) and vision (a living option for seniors).
     Michele asks whether “in a trusting environment” belongs in the mission statement.
     Is there another phrase that could be used to give a more distinguishing or memorable characterization of your facility?

And here are the finalists.
What do you think?

Every Child's Music Fund
Our mission is to bring basic music education back to every child in our community.
     Michele: It's a bold, simple statement of an admirable and audacious goal.
     Eyal: This is a great mission statement (and a superb mission).
     Claire asks why this mission is important—in other words, she’d like a hint of underlying values and vision.
     Dalya finds this statement to be simple yet elegant.
     Two judges think that “our community” is a bit vague; naming your target area could add vividness for prospective donors. Eyal asked whether the word “back” is accurate—whether every child once had that opportunity. I would ask whether “back” is too remedial a word, which might suggest a limited vision and aspiration. On the other hand, Dalya thinks the word “back” adds a sense of intensity to the statement.

Geneva Centre for Autism
Geneva Centre for Autism works to empower individuals with an autism spectrum disorder, and their families, to fully participate in their communities.
     This is a straightforward statement that states why you exist. “empower”, “participate” and “communities” are the vivid words. “and their families” goes a bit further to suggest the disruptive effect of a family member of the spectrum.
     Dalya finds this statement simple but powerful. She likes the inclusion of families and then the phrase “fully participate in their communities”

Nonprofit Association of Oregon
The mission of the Nonprofit Association of Oregon (NAO) is to strengthen the collective voice, leadership, and capacity of nonprofits to enrich the lives of all Oregonians.
     Claire: The “collective voice” is a nice phrase. It gives me an idea that all members are pulling together to achieve a common vision.
     Dalya: This is very much a “why” statement.

Please join the evaluation and selection process with a comment about any of these three finalists—or about mission statements in general. We’ll post the most substantive comments.