From the founding days of a nonprofit organization, much planning goes into the organization’s mission statement. It’s an important task that nonprofit boards have to tackle before they can do much of anything else because the mission statement stands as the foundation for every program and activity the organization provides.
Your mission statement tells your community what your organization stands for and believes in. It epitomizes the reason you created the nonprofit, the people it serves, and how it serves them.
As nonprofits faced one challenge after another in 2020, boards have been tested and challenged like never before. To name a few things, our nation has just gone through a highly divisive and heated presidential election. The pandemic is lasting far longer than anyone could have anticipated with no real end in sight. The Black Lives Matter movement is having a major impact on corporations, nonprofits, and society in general. No doubt your board members have strong, and perhaps, conflicting opinions on every issue.
Predicting how the trends might change in 2021 or what new crises could occur is a shot in the dark at best. The events of the last year have given nonprofit boards many new topics to add to their agendas in 2021.
How do you keep your board united and mission-focused in the face of the drastic uncertainty that lies ahead?
Assessing the Impact of Crises and Trends
As well as your nonprofit board prepares for various crises, trials tend to hit without warning, and they could throw your board into a tailspin. Has your board taken stock of the impact of the many crises on your nonprofit that occurred in 2020 yet? More importantly, are you having discussions about how to deal with the fallout from it?
Nonprofits faced heavy competition for fundraising before the presidential election. No one could have predicted how tumultuous the election would become. As a result, corporations and donors are drawing boundaries over which organizations they’re willing to support because of the divisiveness and public unrest that our nation experienced over politics.
It’s inconceivable that our nation would be dealing with a long-standing and deadly global pandemic at the same time as many other national crises. COVID-19 has forced boards to rely more heavily on technology to maintain strong leadership and keep programs and activities running virtually. Board’s had to make swift decisions about investing in technology.
Just when corporations and nonprofits were moving in the direction of placing a heavier focus on diversity and inclusion, the Black Lives Matter movement called our attention to the fact that racial disparity is palpable, and it still remains strong. Your board may be already discussing how the movement plays a role in your board composition, staff, and volunteers and how your choices reflect your mission.
There’s a lot at stake with every issue. How can your board approach such heated issues in a united way? Simply put, it’s time to get back to that mission statement that your founders worked so diligently to establish.
Staying Mission-Focused in the Face of Uncertainty
Your nonprofit mission statement won’t give you an exact answer to every crisis or problem. What your mission will do is take you back to the organization’s roots and give your board guidance on how to respond when the going gets tough.
Regardless of the strong winds swirling around you and everyone else, it’s essential for your nonprofit’s work to continue. Residents of your community are dealing with joblessness, poverty, and homelessness. Many families are struggling to put food on the table. Your community needs your services more than ever before.
Thom Ruhe, President and CEO of NC IDEA, a nonprofit dedicated to assisting entrepreneurs, summed things up nicely by saying, “The nonprofit sector, more than ever before, will need to stay mission-focused and clear about their priorities. We will need to be the safe port in the storm.”
The question remains, “How do you remain mission-focused in spite of everything?”
It’s a new year, and every new year signals new beginnings. It’s the most natural time to recoup and regroup around reviewing your goals, policies, and procedures. As you move forward with this endeavor, it’s essential to put your mission statement front and center so you don’t lose sight of the very reasons your organization exists. The work that you do in planning may well pay off when troubled waters surface.
While your board may be clear on the role that your mission plays in dealing with crises and changing trends, it’s also important to communicate your stance to your donors, stakeholders, staff, and volunteers, and that will require transparency on the part of the board.
Transparency and Communication Play Roles in Remaining Mission-Focused
To maintain 501(c)(3) status, nonprofits have to be transparent with their funds and record keeping. In addition to remaining compliant, it will be easier for donors and other stakeholders to build and sustain trust in your organization when you’re willing to practice full disclosure of non-confidential information by making it publicly available. Your donors, staff, and volunteers want to know that they’re making a lasting difference, and they want to know how your nonprofit is allocating their contributions.
By tracking and reporting data, you’ll easily be able to connect the results to funding and your mission. The practice of transparency will allow you to share those connections with your supporters. A good way to do this is through storytelling. This approach is something that will earn your board much respect in spite of any divisiveness that’s going on in the country.
Moving into 2021, your nonprofit board will need to be at the top of its game. Why not take some help from technology, specifically, a BoardEffect board management system that gives you all the right tools to help support your mission in good times and bad? From managing your board calendars to building board books and recording meeting minutes, BoardEffect is an all-in-one platform that was specifically designed to enhance efficiency and accountability. What’s more, BoardEffect built state-of-the-art security directly into the portal.
With the right tools at your disposal, your board will be ready for anything the new year dishes out.