With a new year comes new challenges. Personally, it’s been a challenge just being able to keep up with all that’s happening, especially with technology, as well as trying to stop from being buried by the paper monster. When did “Happy New Year” become synonymous with “Where did all this stuff to do come from?”  By the way, for you chemistry majors, consider this equation: “sell” + “change” –> “challenges.”

But since we’re at the beginning of another year of Marketing Matters (TM), let’s take a look at one of the very basic tenets of Advancement – The Mission Statement.  Author Steven R. Covey (“The 8th Habit”) states that an organization’s mission statement focuses on the “who” and “what” of an organization.  Over 2 decades ago, on February 29, 1996, Ron Meshanko wrote the following in soc.org.nonprofit about mission statements:

I give board trainings all over the country and begin each session with a quiz, the first question being, “Write your agency mission statement.” 99% of the time, not one person – sometimes even the executive director – can write down in clear, succinct language the mission statement of the agency.

How can these people lobby on behalf of their organization? How can a person who can’t communicate the mission of the agency ask for a gift?

A Mission Statement should be a one-sentence, clear, concise statement that says who the agency is (the name, that it is a nonprofit, and what type of agency it is), what it does, for whom.


Note that the mission statement does not answer the question “why” – as in, “Why does your school exist?” It was stated several years ago that the reason Catholic Schools came into existence are not the reason they are here today. Everyone seemed to agree with that statement, but the conversation went further to say that the mission of the Catholic School had changed.

But the mission doesn’t change. The Mission Statement says “what” the organization does. Jesus Himself stated the mission statement of Christianity: “Go out into the world and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”

So what has changed? The vision? The Vision Statement CAN change (and probably should, depending upon leadership), since it answers “How” the mission is fulfilled by what you do

As for the question, “Why,” that would be the Case Statement. It’s vitally important for Development and Advancement directors to know about case statements, since there can be many case statements they work with on a daily basis. More about those statements later.

Right now, take a look at your school’s mission statement? Has what you’re doing changed from what it says you do? Then you need to keep refining your Mission Statement until you get it to the point where it does not change as time goes on. And remember, “Clear, succinct language.” It should fit on the back of your business card (yes, school personnel should have some type of business card), and be able to be memorized by everyone in your school. If it doesn’t fit, it’s probably too long to memorize. If it’s not memorized, no one will be able to speak positively, authoritatively and passionately about your school.

© Michael V. Ziemski, SchoolAdvancement, 2008-2023 (Original Publication Date: 20080107)