The 74% Percent: Is Your Mission Statement Ready for Prime Time?

A sneak peek at early responses (1,025 so far) to our Nonprofit Messages Survey shows a startling fact—74% of nonprofit organizations like yours use their mission statement to communicate with external audiences.

That’s a real problem if your mission statement is as inaccessible as this one (it’s real, promise):  The [XYZ Nonprofit Organization] creates, connects and collaborates to raise awareness and inspire change in the areas of well-being, preserving cultures and empowering children in mind, body and spirit. [XYZ Nonprofit Organization] designs forums, partners with existing organizations and brings together experts to define solutions and implement action.

If that’s the case, it’s likely you’re not connecting with the target audiences who can help you move your nonprofit mission forward, especially if you use your mission statement in external communications. Most mission statements just aren’t ready for prime time.

No matter how your mission statement reads, I urge you to rely on your mission statement for internal audiences only. It should briefly convey the reason for your organization’s being and what it hopes to acheive, and guide your staff and leadership in focus and decision making. And even if it’s used only for insiders, make it accessible and compelling.

Then create another message—your positioning statement—to connect with external audiences. Your positioning statement is one to three sentences (max!) that position your organization most effectively in the environment in which you work. It conveys the intersection of what your organization does well, what it does better and differently than others,  and what your network cares about.

I urge you to get to work on your positioning statement right now. Learn how to craft it and your other key messages here: The 4 Cornerstones of an Effective Message Platform.

P.S. Please take 5 minutes to share your message habits in this brief survey. In return, I’ll invite you to a free webinar: How to Tell Your 5-Star Stories. Thanks!

Nancy Schwartz on June 4, 2012 in Branding and Messages | 1 comment
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  • Shane Francescut

    Hi Nancy, 

    Thanks for this post and to the link to “The 4 Cornerstones…” post. I agree wholeheartedly with your points in both posts and feel that the underlying message is to decide who your target audience is and actively listen to what matters to them. I feel that many non-profits market themselves in the Mad Men style of “telling the customer what they want” rather than tailoring the message or service to fit the audience’s needs and wants. 

    This post coincides with the same topic being discussed in my fundraising course this week – mission & vision statements – so I’ll propose the positioning statement idea to my prof and see how she responds.

    Thanks,

    Shane

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