For the last couple of years we’ve really pushed hard to keep our mission at the fore. It’s our lighthouse, our beacon. It keeps our entire team (both paid-with-money & paid-in-other-ways) on course and shining a bright light on the road ahead. Our visitors hear our mission statement often, and see it as soon as they walk in our doors: we inspire and build leadership in the voluntary sector.
All paid staff, board members, most of our knowledge philanthropists and many of our customers can recite it verbatim. Some of our customers tell us they can do so even when they can’t recite the mission of the organizations they work for! I’m in awe of this one. We must be doing something right. It’s our “Big What” and people seem to get it [insert applause]!
But have we gone too far?
Our mission rolls off our tongues so readily. How can that be a bad thing? When I spoke recently at Vancouver Foundation’s Community Conversation on the topic of "belonging", I decided to start with Vantage Point’s vision instead of mission. It felt foreign to start with our vision for a change: that every community mindfully engages passionate citizens. This is our “Big Why” and it is indeed much more compelling than the “Big What” – to me and to those that were in the room that day.
We’re so in the thick of what we’re doing that the why is sometimes overshadowed. Our mission informs our day-to-day decisions and actions. Don’t get me wrong – it should. And, yet, the most significant opportunity to generate raving fans and to inspire supporters (paid staff, knowledge philanthropists, funders, donors, etc.) lies in why we exist.
The opportunity is to find the balance. Our mission, our lighthouse, remains critically important. Yet, we must never lose sight of the reason the lighthouse exists in the first place.