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Mission Statements and Fundraising
By Carlos Craig

Dear colleagues in the pastoral ministry—can you recite your church’s mission statement off the top of your head, without looking at the bulletin or your website? Can you do this for an organization related to your church in some way? Sadly enough, a major share of nonprofit leaders, including churches, can’t do so and have to refer to their materials or websites!
Mission statements have always been important, but never before have the demands for excellence in this statement been so strong and in demand when it comes to church fundraising. A clear statement of mission, which contains values and answers the question, Why do you exist? is fundamental to developing a fundraising plan that contains goals, objectives, and methods for achieving these.
No doubt you’ve read that a nonprofit organization’s mission statement should fit on the back of a business card or even a t-shirt, but that is misleading. This makes us believe that the process of creating a mission statement is a quick task, a brief exercise. But that is NOT the case. Developing a mission statement that your constituents can relate to, catches their attention, answers the question Why do you exist? is concise, but complete enough, and not just a catchy phrase, is memorable, and moves people to action takes considerable thought and work. Also, a mission statement doesn’t take the place of one of the ten commandments—it can be modified and revised as needed in the life and changes of an organization. In short, a mission statement is pivotal to your fundraising success, is a basis for your outreach and planning, and is the foundation for your fundraising campaign.
Perhaps a good way to think about how to create a mission is to ask yourself, What is it that we want people to remember and think about when they hear our organization’s name? And in the case of the church, sometimes we think that simply stating we’re Seventh-day Adventists is enough, but what does your church REALLY represent and stand for? Do people see your church sign and walk past it with perceptions that are limited, that are inaccurate, and perhaps that are even negative? More importantly, as you include your mission in your funding requests and materials such as proposals to funders, what does it say about who you are and why you exist?
A mission should briefly explain who you are, what you do and stand for, and how you have an impact in your world. While the standard guidelines is that a mission statement should be brief, don’t confine yourself to the back of a business card, with type so small only a magnifying glass can help you read it. A mission statement shouldn’t be unwieldy but at the same time should say just enough so that the reader or listener understands who you are and what is your purpose for being on this earth and in your community.
Philanthropic Service for Institutions (PSI) can provide you with advice on how to proceed with creating a mission statement. From my position as a conference president, I have both seen the value of mission statements as guiding lights for organizations I serve, and have been challenged in creating such a statement that resonates with leadership, constituents, members and our broader communities. Yes, you can find information on the web on how to write mission statements, you can find samples, you can learn from the experts and the experienced, but most of all, I encourage you to first of all develop your personal mission statement and then lead your church in re-examining, rewriting, or even developing a mission statement. Then, when someone asks you to recite it, you’ll be ready!!
Carlos Craig is president of the Texas Conference