Mission-Driven Success

Mission-Driven Success for the New Yearsusan howlett

Want your organization to be more powerful and effective? Consider starting off the new year by refreshing your mission statement so it describes the impact you make on end-users and the community, rather than describing what you do. Then set three strategic goals that will drive everyone’s work for the next year, whether they’re staff, board members, or volunteers. Set one that affects your programs, one about your infrastructure, and one that ensures your financial sustainability.
Clear missions and goals emerge as you clarify:

  • Exactly what problem you’re trying to address. For example, are you focusing on the need for people to be sheltered tonight, the need for more affordable housing across our city, or the need for cultural or policy shifts so people don’t become homeless in the first place?

  • Who else is working on that problem. The issues that non-profits tackle require lots of attention from many angles, so rather than claiming to be “the only,” list other organizations and institutions and say “here’s where WE fit in the solution ecosystem.”

  • What your organization is uniquely positioned to do about the problem. How has your work moved the dial already, and where can your expertise and influence have maximum impact, knowing that the results can be attributed to your unique efforts?

Once you’ve set your goals, assign deliverables to both board and staff, according to their roles of governance and management, then use the goals to:

  • Shape the agendas for every board, staff, and committee meeting. Imagine no other items on agendas than the three things you said were most important.

  • Recast your committees and work teams. Rename and repopulate teams to reflect the new goals so you don’t slip back into old patterns.

  • Dictate performance assessments for both board and staff at the end of the year. Measure how well both bodies fared against the goals and deliverables they set for themselves, and identify what systems issues got in the way if performance lagged.

When you use clear mission and goals to drive structure and behavior, you know what to say “no” to, and you’ll be more likely to deliver on your mission.

These concepts and more are covered in High Performance Management and Non-Profit Management classes at EvCC's Corporate & Continuing Education Center. 

Susan Howlett is an accomplished consultant and teacher who has been helping organizations thrive since 1975. Her practical solutions to recurring problems faced by boards and staff have earned acclaim among grassroots organizations, major institutions, grantors and businesses alike. She is the author of Getting Funded: the Complete Guide to Writing Grant Proposals and Boards on Fire! Inspiring Leaders to Raise Money Joyfully which are both used in CCEC's Non-Profit Management certificate program.