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Revisiting Mission

Mission tells your stakeholders that you have a tangible, real-world purpose and related strategy for getting something done. Your theory of change helps with this, too. Your strategy allows stakeholders to feel confident that you will effect change and make progress toward your goal.

Vision is the desired end-state of your organization. It is the 'what' that you are all working to accomplish. Mission and vision are complementary statements but arrived at through different processes. Your mission and how you achieve it can differentiate you from the pack as there is more than one way to get something done. Strategy answers the question of 'how' you get it done.

Mission creep is when your nonprofit organization expands its mission beyond its original set goals. There is a difference between mission creep and making strategic adaptations to a mission statement to evolve as needs change around us. The difference is that strategic adaptations should be weighed organization-wide and involve a critical thinking process before implementation. Mission creep usually occurs during a crisis or as a result of a rash decision.

Mission creep can sabotage a nonprofit's ability to reach its original goals or increase the time needed to achieve them. Keep in mind that expanding your nonprofit mission to achieve a new goal often requires additional training, added responsibility for your organization's staff, and an impact on your nonprofit resources.

Often, mission creep can add unwarranted complexity and blur your organization's vision for the future. Any time that new goals are added to a nonprofit mission, there is a risk of causing complexity and weakening the nonprofit's community standing and financial viability.

In times of transition and economic downturn, revisit your programming portfolio. The core programs to preserve are the ones that align most closely to your mission and strategy. When planning to trim, start with the programs that are furthest away from the mission. Inversely, preparing for or responding to pressured times means you will prioritize programs that support the mission.

This exercise will provide a road map to measure your 'essential' resources and staffing needs.

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