Is your organization a victim of mission creep?

Mission creep is when an organization can’t achieve its desired impact because activities have expanded beyond the focus of the mission statement. Your mission might be creeping if you’re:

  • Taking on things that aren’t supportive of or directly aligned with your mission

  • Signing on to do things just to get funding

  • Creating programs that aren’t part of your core skills and capabilities

  • Expanding offerings without strategy

  • Filling a service gap that’s outside of your core area or target audience

Can’t relate? Good! But, watch out. It can happen more easily than you might think. Sound familiar? It’s time to get to work.

You can avoid mission creep by having a mission statement that is clear, specific and strategic to help assess your activities and make sure you’re focused on the right things.

Here are 5 tips to help avoid, or fix, mission creep:

Communicate Constantly
It’s easier to correct mission creep at the beginning versus down the road after it’s embedded in the organization. Communicate often and effectively across your organization to reinforce mission-based activity and help prevent divergence. This includes communicating with staff, board members, volunteers, and supporters.

Leverage Partnerships
Who else is serving your target population? Find opportunities for partners to deliver services or take over programs that they can provide more effectively so that you can concentrate on your core strengths.

Align Funding
Chasing funding for the sake of having money is a giant mission creep trigger. Be sure your highest impact opportunities are the priorities for your resources (i.e., your grant applications and other funding requests should be focused on these high-impact areas).

Create time to evaluate  on some regular frequency: assess programs and prune, boost or stay the course based on their performance and impact. Evaluate your results, asking if the progress that’s being made is related to our mission.

 Learn to Say NO
When organizations try to be all things to all people, they risk not doing anything meaningful for anyone. Saying “no” is hard, but the most effective organizations have the discipline to make tough choices to stay on mission and give themselves the best opportunity to achieve the impact they exist to make.