Are your Non-profit’s Mission, Vision and Values Statements Still Current?

It is important that everyone fully comprehends what, if anything, has changed since an organisation’s inception or since the last time its purpose for existence was critically considered. If there have been changes, what were these and why? Too many organisations remain static and don’t respond to altering needs and developments. Clarification at the embryonic stage of a new charity or at times of restructuring an existing one, ensures that everyone will be committed to the long hours and hard work that define the startup phase or the implementation of vital changes. Establishing a sound foundation for a fledgling organisation or expansion of an existing one should therefore be a priority.

Board members and staff of long-standing organisations should relook at the NPO’s reasons for existence and ask the questions:

  • Are our services still needed?
  • Does anything need to change?
  • If so, why?
  • If not, why not?

Are the vision, values and mission statements still current and can they be maintained without alteration? In the case of a newly formed entity, do these statements properly serve the organisation? Remember: statements about values, vision and mission of an organisation are not just slogans. They must really represent the values that underpin an organisation, what it exists to achieve and how it goes about reaching that goal, fully supported and endorsed by all stakeholders.

Ensure that every staff member, director and volunteer has no hesitation in answering questions such as these (and that if anyone has not ‘bought into’ all aspects of the organisation, their concerns or lack of knowledge are urgently addressed):

  • What do people say about our organisation?
  • Why do we exist?
  • What do we do?
  • What would be lacking/needed if we did not exist? (This is THE most vital question!)
  • If you had to describe your NPO in only one word, what would it be?
  • How does what you do (your job or volunteer role) enhance the organisation?
  • Are there things that you suggest should be changed about your role?
  • Are there things that you suggest should be changed about what the organisation does and why it exists?
  • If so, why?

It can be quite alarming, but brave and necessary, to ask questions such as these, for, without asking, you won’t know how people really think or feel. If some team members’ experience is not a good one, it will have negative effects throughout the organisation and can and may affect its ability to secure donor funding. There is little as damaging to an NPO as disgruntled staff or former staff members or volunteers bad mouthing it. It is advised to hold group planning sessions to relook at the values, vision and mission of an organisation every few years, ideally facilitated by an independent outsider.

An organisation’s values are the beliefs upon which it was founded, and which guide its actions and decisions.

The vision is what an organisation aims to achieve – the long-term envisaged changes in a local community, country or the world if/when its mission is achieved. A vision is ambitions expressed in words.

The vision statement helps to provide a focus for the mission of the organisation. It outlines the goals, including ultimate goal/s of a not-for-profit entity.

The mission is the purpose for which an organisation was formed and exists and generally does not change much over time. It is a summary of the beneficiaries or issues that an NPO exists to impact upon and describes the differences/improvements that the organisation wants to make.

Share this: