My Reaction To Yesterday's Nonprofit Mission Statement!

I posted this yesterday: "The mission of North Somewhere County Services is to provide safety net programs which promote independence, dignity and education against the many aspects of human need." As I mentioned the statement was taken from a real life example, with the org's name fictionalized. Well, a couple of tweet people indicated liking it.

Now, let me weigh in with why it is a problematic mission statement by working it over into something more appropriate: The mission of North Somewhere County Services is to promote (or better yet, insure) independence and dignity (both terms need to be defined in specific human terms) among (define the population for whom this service organization exists in precise terms, and I would hope not just as clients - the ones the first statement implies are affected by many aspects of human need) by delivering a range of educational and safety net programs.

The change in emphasis is critical. A nonprofit outfit's mission should not emphasize service delivery leading to outcomes. How many times have I seen nonprofits that have been busy running programs at people, in effect, with little impact, and then using something like a head count to justify spending someone else's money... 

The most important aspect of a mission statement is defining participant success in the form of improved quality of life as the basis for developing and delivering effective services.