Your agency needs to ask “What is my why?” every once in awhile


I recently saw a great YouTube video from Alease Michelle talking about how she found personal inspiration from Eric Thomas (aka ET The Hip Hop Preacher on Facebook). She put together a 5-minute online video all about the question: “What is my Why?” By the end of her video, I was thinking about non-profit organizations and their WHY, which is what inspired this morning’s post.

Before I start, I thought you might want to check out Alease’s YouTube video first:

The place that you and your donors go answer this question about your non-profit agency is your MISSION STATEMENT.

Mission statements are the most important tool in your organizational toolbox when it comes to explaining why you exist, with whom you work, and what you do. This is different from vision statements, which exist to tell the world where you are going and the vision you have for your community (or the world).

Mission statements are not static. This isn’t a “set-it-and-forget-it” kind of thing. As Alease talks about in her YouTube video, your WHY changes from time-to-time, which means your mission statement should evolve, too (albeit infrequently). For example, there was a non-profit in my hometown that started off more than 100-years ago as an orphanage. When those closed down, this agency evolved into an organization that provided a variety of services for kids with behavioral-issues. Finally, it expanded its scope to serve adults (e.g. those who they were previously serving and just aged out of the program but still needed assistance). With each evolution, their mission statement also evolved.

Another place where you will likely address the question of “What is my why?” is in your case for support document (aka case statement), which is the bedrock of your fundraising program. Simply stated . . . your internal and external case for support documents explain to fundraising volunteers (e.g. internal case) and donors (e.g. external case) what you do and how the dollars being solicited will support those efforts. In other words, it answers the question “what is the donor investing in?” which is essentially “what is my why?” Right?

This exercise is always timely when your board is going through a strategic planning process. However, it can be done at any time. Remember, this isn’t a role/responsibility for staff alone. It is the board of director’s responsibility to set the organization’s mission statement, vision, and case for support.

If your organization is looking at creating or revising its mission statement or case for support, the following are a few online resources that I dug up and think you might find helpful:

So, have you considered “What is your why?” I would love to hear what that is. I would also love to hear how you tell the world about “your why?“. Please scroll down and use the comment box below to share.

Here’s to your health!

Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC
www.thehealthynonprofit.com 
erik@thehealthynonprofit.com
http://twitter.com/#!/eanderson847
http://www.facebook.com/eanderson847
http://www.linkedin.com/in/erikanderson847

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About DonorDreams

Erik got his start working in the non-profit field immediately upon graduation with his masters degree in 1994. His non-profit management and fundraising experience numbers nearly 20 years. His teachable point of view around resource development is influenced by the work of Penelope Burk and those professionals subscribing to a "donor centered" paradigm. Donors have dreams and it is our responsibility to be dream-makers because donors are not ATMs.

Posted on November 4, 2014, in nonprofit, Planning and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Thanks Steve – this is good stuff. Suzanne​

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