Mission and Metrics for Not-For-Profits

The health of nonprofit organizations often can be improved by a review of their mission statement and a refocus on the economic and social values they are attempting to deliver.

Mission statements often do not answer the questions of: what we do, whom we serve, how we do it, and why we do it. The more explicit the statement, the more effectively the organization can communicate its mission to all stakeholders.

The statement of economic and social value to be delivered can help define goals and objectives.  Activities, people, and services delivered can be refined to better reflect the expected outcome over a specific time period. For example, value-delivered description could change from “provide after-school education programs” to “provide programs that will bring 60% of 1,000 below grade-level 4th grade students to grade-level in nine months”.  Added statistics could be developed to quantify the value of what “coming up to grade level” means to graduation rates and ultimately to lifetime earnings.

With these measurable goals, organization fund-raisers are better able to approach foundations and grant providers. Value-delivered information is now actionable and stands out from the more routine “we have programs to help students”.

It should be noted that this quantification process is more and more the norm in foundation circles. In New York City, the Robin Hood Foundation states that its goal is to make grant decisions that maximize poverty-fighting impact.  To assist them in their evaluation of requests for funds, they have developed a system of cost-benefit ratios (metrics) to help their staff compare the advisability of funding project request A to project request B. As a result, more and more foundations are asking for metric information.

For more help on developing a clear mission statement or objective measures of your services delivered, contact us at Gray Matters.

By Gray Matters Member Dennis Arrouet

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