Mission Statement

How to Grow an Award Winning Board

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What must naturally come first in any human service organization is the mission state-ment, or statement of purpose. If you look in your bylaws, you will likely find your statement of purpose in one of the first three articles. This purpose statement is unquestionably the single most important collection of words in any agency. Yet, it is probably the most commonly ignored collection of words in most agencies and the reason why is not difficult to discover.

Unfortunately, too many purpose statements are either burdened with legal considerations or filled with so much flowing and noble rhetoric as to render the statement useless. But why do you need it in the first place? Three benefits come from a properly worded statement of purpose:

  1. It will provide a bit of bedrock in your decision making process. Every decision made by the Board of Directors is supposed to further the effort to achieve the purpose of the organization. It follows then that the purpose must be clearly written.
  2. A clearly worded statement of purpose can help the Board to stay focused upon your primary purpose instead of permitting excursions into peripheral directions at the expense of serving the primary purpose properly.
  3. Finally, a well-worded statement of purpose can provide you with a yardstick against which you may periodically measure your progress.

There must be full agreement among Board members as to the statement of purpose if the Board is to work well together. The President and/or Chair should quiz the Board members sometime during a meeting as to their understanding of the purpose and compare their individual responses. Mixed results can indicate trouble ahead.

And every year that statement of purpose ought to be taken out and reviewed. Has there been any change this past year, which would impact the purpose? If not, reaffirm it and put it back for another year. But if there has been some change that you must adjust to, then get about making the adjust-ment. Some Boards have difficulty dealing with change, preferring the status quo whenever possible. Such Boards travel on thin ice and in these difficult times, the ice gets thinner every day. So if change is truly needed in the organization, get underway. The agency will be more effective and you will find that getting involved with change can add zest to the business of being a Board member.

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