Developing an NGO's Mission Statement


Hari Srinivas


A mission statement is an organizationational story said as a slogan in less than 30 seconds! It goes a long way in presenting the organization and can be used in a number of ways for public relations purposes. This is important, becuase - as they say - If you don't know where you're going, you'll end up somewhere else.E

The Mission Statment packages the core values and principles of an NGO. It operationalizes the NGO's vision, and assists in developing goals and objectives of the NGO.

Concept:

  • Understand why a Mission Statement is needed
  • Link the statement to why the NGO was created in the first place, and to a pressing current problem.
  • Ensure it represents the collective thinking of the NGO
Use:
  • Inspires creativity , committment and innovation in delivering the NGO's programmes
  • Motivates people to work within and in collaboration with the NGO
  • Develops the policies, programmes and projects of the NGO
  • Provides the NGO with direction and purpose in everything it does.
Format:
  • Simple short 3-4 sentence
  • Free of jargon
  • Proactive and easy to undertand words
  • Memorable and easy to remember
Content:
  • Understandable by a wide audience, but also by the NGO's staff and its constituencies.
  • Says who the NGO is, what it does, what it stands for and why it does its work.
  • Developed with input from all staff members
  • Explains what problems the NGO addresses and services provided, and to whom
  • Highlights the unique advantages of the NGO's approach
  • Answers three key questions [from the Grantmanship Center]:
    • 1. What are the opportunities or needs that we exist to address ? (the purpose of the organization)
    • 2. What are we doing to address these needs? (the business of the organization)
    • 3. What principles or beliefs guide our work? (the values of the organization)
Process:
Step-by-step work plan to develop a mission statement [adopted from "Drucker Self-Assessment Tool"]
  • Establish a mission-writing group. Choose a facilitator and writer
  • At a first meeting of the writing group, adopt criteria for an effective mission statement and gather ideas and suggestions for first drafts.
  • Develop one or more draft statements.
  • In a second group meeting, judge initial drafts against criteria and suggest revisions or new options
  • Develop second drafts.
  • Gain feedback from outside the writing group.
  • Summarize feedback and distribute second drafts and summary to the writing group.
  • In a third group meeting, make recommendations for final revisions and propose a draft mission statement for approval by the NGO's Board, and sum up the status of the process and determine next steps.
  • Give preliminary endorsement to the proposed mission statement.
  • Present the proposed mission statement for board approval.


Return to the NGO Cafe


Comments and suggestions:
Hari Srinivas - hsrinivas@gdrc.org