The identity of nonprofits change over time. This is the normal and positive evolution of a nonprofit organization. Your focus when you first launched your organization might have shifted after a couple of years. This could be due to several factors including:
- Programmatic grants you received
- Change in leadership or board
- Discovering new research
- Finding a solution to your original problem
We at H Collaborative have seen this shift first-hand when we engage with boards and staff of nonprofits who are our clients. They have asked us to help finesse and reposition the organization’s mission and vision to align with current and future directions. When revisiting mission and vision statements, we like what authors Stan Hutton and Frances Phillips, in their Nonprofit Kit for Dummies, recommend to organizations. Simply ask these 3 questions:
- Is the problem we set out to solve still they key problem? Is there a more immediate need that we need to address?
- Should we make the mission and vision statements more specific, or should we broaden them?
- Are the statements flexible enough to allow the organization to change and grow?
As we see it, a vision statement is your organization's calling card. It is your key differentiator. It is your value proposition with the community. As you develop strategies, apply for grants and pursue your goals, you must always ask yourself if what you're doing fits within your vision.
Your vision statement describes the overall destiny of your organization looking into the future, while the mission statement outlines the present plan to realize the vision. Your vision statement is "future-focused" and is your core narrative, while your mission statement is "present-focused" and outlines the current directions and what you do.
Well-crafted mission and vision statements are powerful communications tools. They inspire people to engage with your organization. They create an emotional hook that makes people want to care and support the organization. They act as a compass to follow to meet current and future goals for your nonprofit.
So back to the original question posed in this post? Do your Mission & Vision Statements reflect who you are today? Are they current? By applying what we just discussed, you will have a good idea if perhaps it is time to revisit them. If you're not sure, we are more than happy to help you with a visioning session.