Why is a "good" mission statement important?

It is unfortunate, but true, that at many nonprofits neither the staff nor the board know the agency’s mission statement, usually because it is either too long, boring or both. This also means that no one outside the organization knows the agency’s mission either. An agency’s mission statement, however, is extremely important for:

  • Communicating the essence of your organization to its stakeholders and the public;      
  • Using as a marketing tool that supports the agency’s fundraising; and                            
  • Keeping your agency’s board and staff focused in future program and organizational planning.

Therefore, in just one or two sentences your nonprofit’s mission statement should provide answers to the following questions:

  • Why do you exist?          
  • What do you do?        
  • Whom do you serve?        
  • What impact do you make in the community?

Answering these four questions in a clear, concise manner, with language that demonstrates your unique contribution to the community will attract the public’s interest, as well as motivate your current donors and stakeholders.

Finally, there are several rules to remember when putting together your agency’s mission statement, or when reviewing it during an organizational planning session. A good mission statement:

  • Should NOT be too long, or so full of clauses that it cannot be read easily;
  • Should be free of jargon that ordinary people will not understand;
  • Should communicate WHY your agency exists, not just who, what or how;
  • Should move people emotionally so they can relate to the need you address; and
  • Should be memorable with a clear description of your organization’s impact in the community.

Clarity concerning your mission statement is vital if your organization, your donors, and the public at large, are going to know what you are doing and how you benefit the community.


The Importance of Thank You

Thanking donors is more than just stuffing a form letter into an envelope and sending it off.  It is a critical and necessary part of building the “Friendraising” relationship between your agency and the donor. Getting the first donation is the initial step in working with your donors, but thanking people well and regularly is essential for retaining your donors, and making them a part of your organization’s family.

In fact, donors should be thanked at least seven times a year, and not just when they have given you a gift.  Keeping donors in the loop, and regularly updating them on the progress of your agency, is vital to bringing donors closer to your organization and sustaining their loyalty. There are a number of very simply ways that even small organizations can thank their donors consistently and effectively.

  1. Add a welcome brochure or postcard to the thank you letter of a first time donor;
  2. Place a short handwritten note at the bottom of a thank you letter of a regular donor, even if they only give a small gift; 
  3. Place profiles of your long-term donors in your agency newsletter, website or social media pages;
  4. Have your board members write handwritten thank you notes to special donors at least once a year at your board meetings;
  5. Develop a stewardship protocol with recognition levels for various sized gifts;
  6. Try collecting you donors’ birthdays and have a volunteer call them to wish them a Happy Birthday; or
  7. Conduct small cultivation events for your donors to say thank you and provide them updates on how their donations are being used.

Remember transparency on the use of donations is another way of saying thank you and reassuring donors that their gifts are being used well.  Saying thank you on a regular basis and finding innovative ways to keep them connected to your organization is the best way to retain their support, and keep them as longtime, loyal friends of your agency.