Tuesday, June 16, 2009

What's Your Mission?

In these tough economic times, it is sometimes difficult to stay true to your mission and not "chase dollars." At the same time, this is a perfect time to take a look at the difference between raising funds and altering the core of your agency. If you have an annual dinner, that doesn't mean you are going into the catering business. Likewise, if you add an auxiliary service to your core programs, that doesn't mean you are losing the vision of your organization.

These days, funders want a whole lot more for less. They want collaboration, non-duplication, and maximization. The increased expectations in funding contracts and the dramatically reduced number of such contracts make this an excellent time for nonprofits to expand their idea of service to their clients. On one of the nonprofit Boards I sit on, we recently took on a contract that requires we do HIV testing and counseling. The organization had never done this before and didn't have the infrastructure to take on such an endeavor. In looking at our community partners, however, we identified an agency that was to become our subcontractor. Needless to say, the partner agency was thrilled and so was our organization. Perhaps most amazingly, we have seen a marked increase in clients requesting the HIV testing and counseling! We didn't plan on delivering this service, but it is certainly needed.

Many things we can deliver to our clients make the provision of our core services easier or more valuable. Food pantries, family counseling, and youth services are just some of the things that allow us to serve our clients better - even though the add-on services weren't part of our core services.

As you look at new contracts, grants, and other funding opportunities, open up your mind to all possibilities. Look for ways to include community partners and ultimately provide more value for your clients.