As I have done my research, and reviewed my peers Board Assessments over the past few weeks, I hear talk of several different types of statements available for nonprofits. Each type of statement has a specific purpose and goal. I do not know that all of them are necessary for each nonprofit to possess, but they may be helpful. There are three types of statements I want to discuss: The Mission Statement, Value Statement and Case Statement.
The Mission Statement
The Mission Statement is the crux of all organizations, but especially for a nonprofit. This is what you are telling your donors, your stakeholders, and employees you plan to do. An article about how to write mission statements by Janel Radtke (1998) gives us three important questions to ask when writing your mission statement:
1) What are the opportunities or needs we that we exist to address?
2) What are we doing to address those needs?
3) What principles or beliefs guide our work?
I believe that these are good questions to ask. Make sure that your answers are clear and concise. Your mission statement doesn’t have to be long – maybe two or three sentences. And the best mission statements are easy to memorize by your Board members and employees.
If your agency already has a mission statement (which I would hope it does), then you should review it periodically to make sure that the programs and services you are operating fall in line with the mission. If they do not, you may be experiencing mission drift and want to evaluate whether your mission needs fine-tuned, your organization has met its original goals or whether you need to restructure your programming to get it back on track.
The Value Statement
The Values Statement is where an agency gets to tell the world how it wants to accomplish the goals it has set forth in the mission statement. Gottlieb (2007) discusses how your Value Statement will start with a mission statement and then talk about how the work will be done to model the behaviors you wish to obtain. In reviewing information about creating a values statement, this may also be called your Code of Ethics. A value statement can be used to help an organization make decisions in sticky situations. It can also be a way for the organization to judge whether it does what it wants to do in the way that it wants to do it.
The Case Statement
Your Case Statement is used to present to potential donors all the information they need to know about your agency and why they should donate to you. This is almost like a business plan in the private sector. You need to take time to give background on your organizations, explain your mission statement, discuss how you are different from similar agencies, any accomplishments your agency has achieved, and measurable outcomes (Bangs, Jr.). This is not going to be the short 2-3 sentence statement that was your mission statement. Instead, this document may be several pages long. However, you should remember that you want your donor to actually read it and not see a 10 page paper and throw it in the trashcan. Try to keep your points simple and concise.
While at first glance, these statements appear to be similar, they do each serve a specific purpose. By having these statements, you appear more authentic and organized to the donors you are soliciting, as well as your employees.
Bangs, Jr., David. “How to Raise Money for a Nonprofit.” http://www.entrepreneur.com/money/financing/article171296.html
Gottlieb, Hildy. “Three Statements That Can Change the World.” 2007. http://www.help4nonprofits.com/NP_Bd_MissionVisionValues_Art.htm
Radtke, Janel. “How to Write a Mission Statement.” 1998. www.tgci.com