If you volunteer for or are employed by an association, tell me if this sounds familiar, “Our mission is to be the premier provider of education and networking opportunities to serve the needs of our members”. It’s a fine mission, and in most cases it is true. However, this same mission is applicable to 99% of associations and doesn’t truly speak to why your particular association exists. If your mission statement sounds like this one, it might be time to consider changing it. Here are a few tips to bring to the board table when considering a revision:
- Why are we here? Begin by asking this simple question during a Board meeting. Volunteers are a passionate bunch who devote time and energy above and beyond their work and life schedule. Why are they doing it and why do they volunteer? Certainly talking about association finances and membership strategies is fun, but it is not the true reason they volunteer.
- Why does the association exist? Ask each member of the Board to answer this question in one sentence on a piece of paper. Next, have them individually read their responses aloud. If any of the sentences resemble the statement from above, ask why? Why do we serve our members? Why are we advancing the field? Sometimes it takes a little digger to get to the larger purpose.
- Condense common themes into one sentence. The statement should be short and easy to articulate. Healthy wordsmithing is encouraged (no more than 30 minutes) to ensure everyone has the opportunity to provide input and ultimately buy-in.
- Revisit the earlier questions. Does the revised statement clearly answer “why are we here” and “why does the association exist”? If it does, you have successfully revised your mission statement and one that will resonate with your members, community and stakeholders.
The Society for Cardiovascular Magnetic Resonance (SCMR) leadership recently gathered for their mid-year Board meeting. Their previous mission statement was six sentences long and although it captured the essence of what the society does, it did not speak to why it exists. Following the process above, the revised mission statement is “To improve cardiovascular health by advancing the field of CMR”. Short and easy to remember, this new statement will help guide SCMR’s decision making and remind us why we do the work that we do. Hopefully these tips we help you and your association the next time you consider revising your mission statement.