Great advice from Kevin Starr, director of the Mulago Foundation, on the much maligned mission statement and how to make them useful drivers of an organization — a particularly challenging exercise for most non-profits.
A verb, a target population, and an outcome that implies something to measure—and we want in eight words or less.
Why eight words? It just seems to work. It’s long enough to be specific and short enough to force clarity. Save kids’ lives in Uganda. Rehabilitate coral reefs in the Western Pacific. Prevent maternal-child transmission of HIV in Africa. Get Zambian farmers out of poverty. These statements tell us exactly what the organization has set out to accomplish. Once we’ve got it, we know whether they are working on something that fits our own mission, and we have a useful starting point for any subsequent conversations.