Three Vital Building Blocks for Every Nonprofit (and a free resource!)
Updated: Jan 18
Mission, vision, and values - three building blocks of nonprofit success - are highly underrated.
What comes to mind when you think of mission, vision, and values?
Lengthy leadership retreats involving groupthink and loads of post-it notes?
Wishy-washy concepts with no real applicability to day-to-day business operations?
Critical foundational elements to organizational decision-making and succession planning?
Hopefully you chose #3. Because a mission, vision, and values provide nonprofits with a vital compass to determine its trajectory as well as tools to figure out what activities it should not take on. (Say goodbye to mission creep!).
A Quick Primer
Mission: what your organization does on a day-to-day basis.
Vision: the desired future your organization is trying to create.
Values: the guiding principles that demonstrate what your organization stands for
Why Are Mission, Vision, and Values Important?
Clarifies identity and brand
At its most foundational level, a mission, vision, and values provide a framework for decision-making. They clarify who the organization is, what the organization does, where the organization is going, and who should be participating in the organization. A nonprofit can only brand itself successfully if it has a clear mission, vision, and values, helping it stand out from the crowd.
Every day, each person who works for an organization makes decisions. What to delegate? How much time to spend on a project? Which item to purchase? Ideally, those decisions are made based on objectives the employee needs to accomplish. And those objectives are based on strategic goals, which are informed by mission, vision, and values.
To put it another way, once a nonprofit knows where it wants to be in several years, it can break that vision down into smaller, achievable objectives (need a strategic plan?). Each staff member likely has a role in contributing to at least one of those objectives, which informs the decisions he or she makes on a daily basis.
With a mission, vision, and values, the small, daily decisions made by each staff member don’t steer the organization off course, but rather keep it on track.
Culture of philanthropy
Philanthropy means “love of humankind,” and the most successful nonprofits bring this love of humankind into their workplaces, ultimately resulting in financial sustainability. How? Through creating a meaningful company culture where every individual understands their role in achieving the mission and vision. This concept is so important that Benezet Advisors gives training and presentations on the topic.
Most people considering working at an organization visit the mission section of its web page and determine whether the organization’s mission and values sync with his or her own. Make your values clear to attract the right people as well as turn away the people who would not be a good fit. It will save both you and prospective candidates time in the long run.
Clear communication with donors and community partners
Donors and community partners align themselves with organizations that mirror who they are or who they want to become. Conversely, people who are not moved by the mission or whose values are not in alignment will not support the organization – and that is a good thing! Organizations should seek quality over quantity in their partnerships, and clearly stating mission, vision, and values will achieve that aim.
Mission, vision, and values are “the glue that holds the nonprofit together.” There are countless reasons why establishing them are important.
To help you clarify or update your own mission, vision, and values, we've put together a free template that you can work through with your leadership team - download below! It will keep the process for your organization simple (and free!).
If you need an experienced guide to walk you through the process of developing or updating your mission, vision, and values, just reach out to us!
Benezet Advisors is not affiliated with and does not necessarily share the perspectives of the businesses linked in any article in The Benezet Report.