Extension CED Offers Virtual Mission-statement Workshops for Nonprofits

August 19, 2020

By Lynn Adams, Community Development Specialist

Ven diagram showing mission, vision, and valuesMany nonprofit boards are feeling the effects of how COVID-19 is changing things for them operationally to fulfill their mission and are making plans to engage in strategic planning. That’s a good thing. However, the pandemic has hindered board members’ ability to meet in person. That’s a bad thing.

Since the pandemic started, the Community and Economic Development CED program in Iowa State University Extension and Outreach had been quite proactive in developing and delivering virtual programming, and mission-statement workshops are no exception. CED specialists recently facilitated a virtual workshop with the board of directors of the American Poultry Association in which it updated its mission statement in preparation for strategic planning. The updated version will serve them well as the organization moves forward to establish its priorities and goals for the future.

An up-to-date mission statement is critical for that planning process because it states more than just what a nonprofit does. It also communicates why, where, when, for whom, and how the organization does its work. If the organization’s vision states the ultimate change to occur through time, the mission statement is the working map to achieve the overall goal. COVID-19 may very well cause nonprofit boards to make adaptations or changes that their current mission statements do not reflect.

Mission statements can clarify for staff and volunteers what directions to take as they make decisions about the best use of resources for activities, programs, and services to achieve the vision. It has the external purpose of engaging the public for volunteerism, advocacy, donations, and use of its services and programs. It accomplishes so much if it effectively communicates what people need to know to work within or engage with the organization. For example, staff may decline a grant opportunity, or a volunteer may decide it is possible to interact with activities based on the service area defined in the mission statement.

CED offers both virtual and in-person options for a facilitated mission-statement workshop. Interested organizations can contact Lynn Adams, at adamsml@iastate.edu.