What does the term “mission fundraising” mean to you?

I define mission fundraising as sharing the purpose or reason of existence for your organization with donors for the purpose of raising much-needed philanthropic support, so the organization may advance its mission or cause. It sounds simple. But in reality, how simple is it?

Understanding and communicating your mission is one of the most vital components of fundraising. Before you kick off your next fundraising campaign or program, ask yourself these questions:

  1. Do I know my organization’s mission statement?
  2. Do my colleagues know the organization’s mission statement?
  3. Can my colleagues and I enthusiastically share our mission with our constituencies?

Let’s go back to the first question: “Do I know my organization’s mission statement?” If you do, say it out loud right now (if you are in a coffee shop or another public place, you may want to whisper under your breath). Now, go “old school” with a pen and write your mission statement on a piece of paper. Next, go online or look anywhere your organization’s mission statement is published, and compare what you see to what you said and wrote. How close are you?

Now go through the same exercise with your colleagues. At your next staff meeting, ask, “Do you know our organization’s mission statement?” Ask your colleagues to write it on a piece of paper. Then read the mission statement aloud. Don’t be disappointed if all your colleagues don’t know the organization’s mission statement. Rather, use this as a learning opportunity.

You are now ready to tackle the next question: “Can my colleagues and I enthusiastically share our mission with our constituencies?” This is a challenging question, since having the ability to enthusiastically share the mission of an organization and being comfortable doing so can vary greatly from person to person and from situation to situation. Here’s a strategy to implement: Include your organization’s mission statement on your website, board agendas, and every piece of literature that goes to any of your key stakeholders. I have found that once the mission statement is prevalent online and in all print materials, it becomes easier and more natural to express.

Mission fundraising is extremely powerful. But to maximize its effectiveness, you must first know what your organization’s mission is; ensure that your colleagues know what your organization’s mission is; and become comfortable and confident in sharing your mission with key stakeholders of the organization.