As a nonprofit leader, it's essential to make sure your organization stays true to its mission. When your mission isn't kept at the forefront of all of your decisions, you risk mission creep, which can be detrimental to your nonprofit.
Mission creep can manifest in various ways. It involves a gradual expansion or deviation from your organization's core mission, often driven by the desire to tackle additional problems or expand into unrelated areas. It can also be driven by the desire to secure additional funding. While it's true that organizations can change and adapt over time, mission creep is different from strategic decision-making. It is often a subtle and gradual process that can go unnoticed until it's too late.
While adaptability is crucial for nonprofits, mission creep can lead to a loss of focus, reduced efficiency, strained resources, and diminished public trust. By staying true to your nonprofit's mission, you can ensure your organization's efforts remain targeted and impactful.
Tips to Avoid Mission Creep
1. Establish Clear and Focused Goals: Remain focused mission statement. It is what outlines the core purpose of your nonprofit. Your mission statement should serve as the guiding force behind all of your activities, programs, and services.
2. Prioritize Your Resources: It's essential to allocate your resources, time, and efforts to the areas that align with your mission statement and are most critical to achieving your goals. Avoid getting sidetracked by minor issues or distractions that do not contribute to your overall mission.
3. Create an Accountability System: Regularly assess and evaluate your activities and initiatives to ensure that they align with your mission. Establish a process for monitoring progress, identifying deviations, and taking corrective action as needed.
4. Involve All Stakeholders: Engage all stakeholders, including staff, volunteers, donors, and community partners, in the mission-focused work of your nonprofit. Ensure that everyone understands the organization's goals and aligns their work to support your mission.
Is Nonprofit Mission Creep Always Bad?
It is easy to look at the potential consequences of mission creep and assume it's harmful, but that's not always true. Expanding into different program areas can be positive when managed intentionally. For example, when new or unique community needs arise, your nonprofit organization might be the only agency that can fill the gap. Thoughtful and strategic investigation can help you decide if you want to take on new initiatives and broaden your nonprofit's mission.
By revisiting your nonprofit's vision and mission statements, you can be sure you are staying on track. You can examine which "mission creep" initiatives might be vital to your nonprofit organization's future vision—and which are too far outside of scope.