Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Mission Statements And Your Belief Systems

Everyone involved with nonprofits know that mission statements are essential for an organization's existence, but do they know exactly what needs to be included?

In his book "Protecting Donor Intent," Jeffrey J. Cain wrote that the best statements go above and beyond what is required. They describe the principles and beliefs that inspire your philanthropy in addition to the main goal of the organization. Whether you think it's fair or not, your belief systems play an important role in how people perceive your organization.

Cain wrote that it's not enough to simply state the beliefs that are behind your goals. You must explain them so that those carrying out your mission can consider them. He recommended asking the following eight questions about your beliefs when crafting a mission statement:

  • Are you religious? Do you want your faith to be reflected in your philanthropy? If so, how?
  • What are the ideas, traditions, persons, events, and circumstances that shaped you as a person?
  • Why are you establishing a philanthropic entity? What are your motivations?
  • What would be the worst thing that could happen to the assets you’ve dedicated to the charity?
  • What good are you trying to achieve?
  • How important is family involvement to you?
  • Over time your values might come into conflict with each other, with your heirs, or with your society’s changing mores. How should such matters be resolved?
  • What parts of your foundation’s mission and grant-making would you like to remain constant over time? What aspects are nonnegotiable?

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