Deeper Insight: Executing on Mission
The Cause for Executing on Mission: Because resources are shrinking and scrutiny of the nonprofit sector’s impact is increasing, nonprofits must apply greater rigor around more focused target audiences, missions, and visions.
To execute on mission, organizations articulate a clear purposes, target audiences, and intended results of their efforts. Organizations must move away from ambiguous missions or unclear societal value propositions that allow drift toward funding and varied and uncoordinated programs and services that do not deliver promised outcomes.
They attune themselves to their operational realities, avoiding sweet, sentimental rhetoric. When drafting strategic and operational plans, they avoid ambiguity by drilling down to what success looks like and how it will be measured.
Focus is paramount for high-impact organizations. They refuse to deplete resources across disjointed programs, services, and activities, even if it means rejecting funding. They continually examine their programs to assess relevancy to mission and divest those that are misaligned.
By achieving clarity and specification around goals, target audience, implementation strategies, and results, high-impact organizations position themselves to drill down from the mission to the individual contribution of each staff member and volunteer so everyone is an invested contributor to the cause.
To achieve long-term impact, Beech Acres Parenting Center in Cincinnati redefined its mission by prioritizing parenting quality and shifting the primary focus of its strategy from working with children to building the capabilities of their parents and other caregivers. The organization developed a strengths-based, mindful parenting model, and it made the decision to only work with children for whom parents or caregivers can be identified.
During its transition, the agency dropped government contracts that didn’t fit the new mission, including a $14 million managed care contract. Its budget decreased dramatically, from $32 million to $9 million; however, it is serving four times the number of kids and families and is seeing improved outcomes in the reunification of families, children’s mental health, kindergarten readiness, and school performance.
Key Alliance Resource for Executing on Mission
Making Strategy Count in the Health and Human Services Sector features the work of Alliance members that engineered significant improvements in their abilities to align programs around mission, adjust to change, reap the benefits of more data-driven decisions, and innovate in meaningful ways. It is based on the lessons learned of the Alliance Strategy Counts Initiative, which featured a learning lab of 20 human-serving organizations.
Resource Collection for Executing on Mission
Staff of Alliance member organizations may request the electronic collection of resources on Executing on Mission curated by Severson Center librarians.