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Can a Mission Statement Help you have Impact?

May 7, 2008

How does having, or not having a mission statement contribute to an organization’s ability to have impact? Is merely having a mission statement enough? In this video post, I take a look at what mission really is and how to effectively accomplish your mission.

Recently on Twitter, I asked, “Do you have a mission statement, biz or personal? Do you feel you are having impact? Care to share?” Here is some of the feedback that I got. For non-Twitterites, be sure to read from the bottom up. 🙂

I like “Be an Outsider” because it says something about the nature of the organization, while at the same time communicates a passion, a vision and an action – encourage and motivate others to get out and enjoy the great outdoors. Short and to the point, it does the job.

The one from Geoff Livingston “Works Well” is also short, but it takes a little more info to get to the heart of the matter. Jeff runs a PR/marketing communications firm where the mission is more fully stated as, ” Our mission is to develop and execute superior outreach campaigns that deliver results, plain and simple.” He also had a recent blog post on Strategy that spelled out in more detail what his company’s approach is to communications. My comments there reiterate the same thought here – there’s got to something more in back of your mission statement than just the words.

Do you, or does your company have a mission statement? Do you feel like you are having impact? I would love to hear your comments.


Also, don’t forget that next Tuesday, May 13th, Ken McArthur is releasing “Impact: How to Get Noticed, Motivate Millions and Make a Difference in a Noisy World“.

To build awareness of his new book, Ken is giving away training from over thirty successful business owners with all kinds of specialties to help you succeed in business. It’s available free at The Impact Factor.

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10 Comments leave one →
  1. May 7, 2008 9:00 am

    If ethics and missions have no grounding in reality, then they are empty words! Good to great fodder, IMO. It’s one of my fav books.

    Good post, Dave,

  2. May 7, 2008 10:19 am

    That would be Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap… and Others Don’t by Jim Collins. There’s also a Good to Great for the Social Sector. I agree, Geoff, great book(s). Honored to mentioned in the same breath!

  3. May 7, 2008 12:32 pm

    Reply to Geoff’s Comment:

    I have to disagree with you Geoff. As a matter of fact, nonprofit organizations exist to fulfill their mission. It drives their programs, outreach and organizational success. It is how they measure their impac – as to if they continue to meet the strategies that moves them toward their mission. Example: A Homeless Organizaiton’s Mission Statement maybe: To provide service for the physical, emotional and mental wellbeing of homeless and enable them to reach self sufficiency.

    Now, their strategic plan, operational plan, decision making and collaborative efforts are based on reaching that misison. Will this program, partnership, etc… help us to… meet our mission. Nonprofits in many ways have to be accountable in meeting thier impact in fulfilling their services when it comes to funding sources whehter fed, state or private foundations. Funders are stakeholders.

    Mission statements, however, on the for profit sector have had no accountability other than to shareholders. Decision making is focused on financial returns rather than mission fulfillment. Yet, we are seeing a growing trend with CSR (corporate social responsibility ) whereby companies are alinging more and more with mission fulfillment. CSR is not just about philanthropy it includes: environmental stewardship, sustainability, human labor relations, renewable energy, fair trade.

    I would not discount the importance and growing relevance of mission and impact in the for profit sector. Nonprofits have been doing this for years. with the thrust of CSR, we will see more mission accountability in years to come.

    • July 29, 2010 12:30 pm

      Maggie F. Keenan: You are talking about impact statements for project based organizations (No need to separate profit and nonprofits) – it’s a different tool. In the same way you describe mission statements, impact statements are applied – grants pull in funding agencies using impact statements (end world poverty and such) and there is always a leap of faith that must be done to show that a project accomplished the desired impact.

      Mission statements are not for funders alone they are for potential members, employees, etc to motivate them to participate. They should clarify the group’s unique grounding and role in the big picture. You are right though -sometimes (too often) they just suck.

      Also tagline – is another thing (be an outsider is an example).

  4. May 7, 2008 12:34 pm

    oops on the typos.

  5. May 7, 2008 2:10 pm

    Maggie: You misread my comment.

    “If ethics and missions have no grounding in reality:”… Brute translation: As in if you are BSing with no walk to substantiate it then your screwed. If a non-profit has a mission, gets funding and doesn’t it acheive it, it’s mission is meaningless. It is a faux charity that failed in its efforts. In fact Mario marino has done great work on social responsibility for non-profits, as ahas Bill gates.

    Brute truth: Every organization for or not for profit should exist to fulfill its mission.

  6. May 7, 2008 2:11 pm

    double oops on the typos. 🙂

  7. Roger W. Farnsworth permalink
    May 7, 2008 8:09 pm

    Many organisations lose sight of their real goal when they create an ultra-homogenised, committee-generated mission statement that is heavy on prose and short on meaning. That’s an easy and dangerous trap to fall into. I wrote about the need for clear vision and its impact on success today:

    Thanks for the thought provoking discussion.

  8. Dave Webb permalink*
    May 7, 2008 9:17 pm

    Maggie: Not sure I quite understand what you are saying regarding Geoff’s comments. I think you must have misread. Check his reply.

    Geoff: “no walk to substantiate it then your screwed.” Substance vs. empty words and action vs. formality was exactly my point. Thanx for clarifying.

    Roger: Losing sight of the real goal and a lack of clear vision happens often because there’s not a solid foundation. As I said in the video, defining your purpose answers the why, vision answers the where, and mission answers the what. A clear purpose will help bring a clear vision and a mission statement that is full of meaning. Thanks for your comments.

  9. gale smith permalink
    November 30, 2009 1:53 pm


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