Your Mission Statement and Why it Matters

Dilbert comic strip - Wally and his Mission Statement

What is your mission statement?

Why does it matter?

What does it have to do with social media for nonprofit organizations?

Discussion about the mission statements of nonprofit organizations might seem to be a little bit lofty for a guy that helps NGOs with their social media strategy. We don’t see a lot of social media activity around missions, purposes, and causes in the social media marketing world. Well, in a nutshell – that’s a darn shame. Because until everyone in an organization knows, and has internalized the organization.s mission, there is really no way to measure true success.

Social media success is more than click measurements, followers, friends, contacts, or likes. The only true measure of social media success is the increase in organizational success that can be attributed to social media. And, especially with nonprofits, the best measure of organizational success is attainments of organizational objectives.

What is a mission statement?

Let’s start with this definition from Entrepreneur Magazine.

A sentence describing a company’s function, markets and competitive advantages; a short written statement of your business goals and philosophies .

The mission statement reflects every facet of your business: the range and nature of the products you offer, pricing, quality, service, marketplace position, growth potential, use of technology, and your relationships with your customers, employees, suppliers, competitors and the community.

Now let’s examine that a bit, and rework it for nonprofits. Here’s what we come up with.

A sentence describing an organization’s purpose and stakeholders; a short written statement of your organization’s goals and philosophies .

The mission statement reflects every facet of your organization: the range and nature of the services you offer, social impact, social potential, and your relationships with your members, employees, stakeholders and the community.

That’s a little better as far as describing what the statement is. But we can probably do even better when we take into account what we know that is specific to our own organization. In a nutshell, this is how I would describe what a mission statement is:

In one or two sentences our mission statement summarizes why our organization exists, and what its goals are. 

Here is my mission statement:

To help nonprofit organizations use social media to reach their communication objectives, maximize their social impact, and to be fairly compensated for my efforts.

That’s it. It is short, easy to understand, reasonable, and realistic. It is the measure by which every action I take for my business is measured. Even this blog post that you are reading right now would not have been published if I did not believe it would bring me closer to my goal.

Why Does a Mission Statement Matter?

A mission statement is the “critical infrastructure” that allows everyone in an organization to work smarter, rather than just harder. Hard work is important of course, but hard work is pointlessly exhausting if it isn’t accomplishing anything meaningful to the organization. Eventually, hard work can even be counterproductive if members, volunteers, and employees start feeling like they are just spinning their wheels or wasting their time.

There is no way to know if we are getting closer to reaching our goals, if we haven’t clearly articulated what are goals are.  

A mission statement is a road map. It provides direction to everyone involved in the organization.

What Does the Mission Statement Have to do With Social Media?

I can almost hear the skeptics saying, “Big deal! We don’t need a consultant to tell us what we are all about, we just need help getting our Facebook and Twitter accounts working for us.” If you are among the skeptical, let me set your mind at ease. You are right. My role is not, and should not, be to develop a mission statement for your organization. My role indeed (as you can see from my own mission statement) is only to help you reach your communication objectives using social media tools. But, it is going to be really difficult for me to accomplish my mission if you can’t tell me what your own is.

It is going to be really difficult for me to accomplish my mission if you can’t tell me what your mission is.

Once you can articulate your organizational mission, and better still your communication goals, we can start building a strategy to put social media to work towards reaching those goals, and fulfilling your mission.

And that’s what it’s all about, Right?

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