Institutional Purpose and Mission

Everything rests on this:  clarity about why this organization exists – its identity and its purpose.   Every decision about the organization, including decisions about who is hired and how the budget is determined, comes back to mission:  who are we?  What is our mission? 

This is not merely about a mission statement; though that is a good point of reference.   It means, at the very least, the following; 

What industry are we in?  Are we a school, a church, an art gallery, an advocacy agency, a development or perhaps a civic organization.   

Within that industry, what distinguishes us?  What makes us unique – not special, just unique:  what is our particular sphere of opportunity and responsibility? 

And then, given our institutional purpose, can we frame and live out this mission in a way that is financially sustainable and compelling? 

Mission then becomes the compass – sustained by the rhetoric of the senior leadership team and implemented by the key team members within the organization [the staff, or in the case of a college or university, the faculty]. 

The board are then the trustees of the mission. 

Assessment is about intentionally asking:  what is our mission and what is the evidence that the mission is actually happening? 

Essential Reading:  
Gordon T. Smith.  Institutional Intelligence (IVPress, 2017), Chapters 2 and 3.
Peter Drucker. Managing the Non-profit Organization:  Principles and Practices. Harper Business, 1990