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Ditch Your Mission Statement

by: Jennifer Shen (9/24/2014)

Woah, woah, woah. We don’t want you to incur the wrath of the IRS, but most mission statements are simply not enough to drive high performance and guide you to your intended impact.

A useful, high-quality mission statement “focuses the organization on action. It creates a disciplined organization.”[1] It “sets out the reason for the organization’s existence and drives programs and services, operational goals, and day-to-day activities.”[2] But because most mission statements are also used for legal purposes, marketing, and promotions, they usually end up as an inspiring catchphrase on a t-shirt, not a clarifying statement of the organization’s purpose or ultimate impact.

Alternatively, mission statements are also often created by a committee to offend no one—in other words, designed to be broad, wordy, and practically meaningless. For example, can you guess whose mission statement this is?

We will strive to integrate virtual educational opportunities in order to competently operationalize impact to the highest standards.

In truth, it was created by the Mission Statement Generator, which recombines nouns, verbs, and adjectives into prototypical and jargon-filled mission statements. Admit it: for just a second, you thought it was real.

Sample Impact Statement

So, if a mission statement isn’t a true “North Star” and doesn’t provide the guidance you need for making tough decisions, what’s a leader and strategic thinker to do? We at Blue Garnet believe an Impact Statement is the best tool to create focus, drive clarity, and help you to become a high performing organization. An Impact Statement defines in one sentence how the world is different in ten years because of your organization. It includes a scale, timeframe, unit of change, and clear impact, to drive operations and galvanize action. The best Impact Statements incorporate a big, hairy, audacious goal (BHAG) and answer the question “so what?” for your organization.

Are you ready to “ditch your mission statement” and take accountability for results to a new level with an Impact Statement?

[1] Light, Mark. Results Now for Nonprofits: Purpose, Strategy, Operations, and Governance. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, 2011. Print.

[2] O’Connor, Judith. The Planning Committee: Shaping Your Organization’s Future. Washington, D.C.: National Center for Nonprofit Boards, 1997. Print.

Nurture Your Inner Learner With Three McAdam Award Finalists

by Taylor Chamberlin 9/1/14 (updated 10/8/14)

Have you read any inspiring, insightful, or downright useful books on nonprofit management lately? If so, odds are it was a nominee  for The Terry McAdam Book Award. This annual award program, which honors Terry McAdam, who devoted his life to improving the nonprofit management field, selects the nonprofit sector book that best shares knowledge and builds the social change movement. Blue Garnet’s Jennifer Shen is thrilled to be a member of the selection committee, which announced a winning nominee at The Alliance for Nonprofit Management National Conference on September 17-19th in Austin, Texas.

We at Blue Garnet have an innate love of learning, so we strive to cultivate a similar curiosity in others. That means it’s that time of year once again (see last year’s posts here and here) to nurture your inner learner by sharing the 2014 McAdam Book Award finalists.

Creating Value in Nonprofit-Business Collaborations book coverCreating Value in Nonprofit-Business Collaborations: New Thinking and Practice (by James E. Austin and M. May Seitanidi)

Everywhere you turn, the nonprofit sector is buzzing about how collaboration can improve the work that we do. This timely and important contribution answers the all-important question, “What the heck is a value proposition?”, then gives practical advice for thinking about partnerships through a collaborative value framework. Austin and Seitanidi have a “pracademic” approach, sharing insights and guidance by balancing case studies, evidence of effectiveness, and storytelling. You can read more about transformational nonprofit-business partnerships by purchasing their book here.

Content Marketing for Nonprofits Book Cover

Content Marketing for Nonprofits: A Communications Map for Engaging Your Community, Becoming a Favorite Cause, and Raising More Money (by Kivi Leroux Miller)

In this outcomes-focused world, it is critical to know how to effectively share your story. Content Marketing for Nonprofits can serve as your handbook on creating a communication strategy that will help you climb up the “engagement ladder” to inspire behavioral change. Many organizations find creating a marketing strategy intimidating, but Miller’s approach makes communications mapping accessible.  You can purchase Content Marketing for Nonprofits here!

 The Last Virtual Volunteering Guidebook book coverThe Last Virtual Volunteering Guidebook: Fully Integrating Online Service into Volunteer Involvemen(by Jayne Cravens)

Volunteers are critical to the success of many nonprofits, but all too often organizations don’t have a strategy in place for volunteer management. We believe that meaningful volunteer engagement can become a strategic advantage– we even highlighted our partnership with a foundation helping to build volunteer management capacity in our last newsletter. We were heartened to see a guidebook with up-to-date insights and advice on integrating online activities into volunteer management, especially considering the rapid change and innovation of the last decade. If you seek a easy-to-use and forward-thinking guide to integrated volunteer involvement, look no further! You can purchase The Last Virtual Volunteering Guidebook here.

Now it’s your turn: Have you read anything lately that you think deserves an award? What do you think about the 2014 McAdam Book Award finalists? Let us know by commenting below!

Update: the winner is…drumroll please… Kivi Leroux Miller for Content Marketing for Nonprofits! Read more about her work and this year’s McAdam Book Awards here. Congrats Kivi!

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