What is Giving Compass?
We connect donors to learning resources and ways to support community-led solutions. Learn more about us.
Giving Compass' Take:
• At Nonprofit AF, Vu Le argues that complete fealty to a singular mission isn't always healty for nonprofts, but rather causes more isolation and unnecessary competition. He has some advice on how to act as a sector and support one another.
• Do you agree with his take on being mission-driven? Is it realistic for organizations to "be on the lookout for one another" and "introduce one another to funders and donors," among other steps? This would go a long way to creating a stronger community in philanthropy.
• If you like the way Le thinks, here's another blog post where he discusses industry jargon that should be phased out.
The concept of mission-driven has been well-beaten into all of us. It seems that nothing is more important to our work than our mission. This idea has been baked into everything we do: fundraise, communicate, run programs. Concepts like “mission creep” (which sounds like the name of a really boring super-villain) are designed to instill in us this sense that our individual mission is pure and sacred, and that all of us must have as our highest imperative the unwavering devotion to it.
I’m going to say something kind of blasphemous, so hold on to your suspenders. I think we all need to be less mission-driven. “What? No! Oooh, he didn’t just say that!”
I didn’t say for us to abandon our missions, or to stray far from our missions, but honestly, there is a hyper-focus on our own individual mission, and it has been unintentionally leading to some no-good, very bad things, including perpetuating the Nonprofit Hunger Games, furthering isolationism among nonprofits, creating imbalances in the nonprofit “ecosystem,” and proliferating “zombie” nonprofits (ineffective organizations that refuse to close).
A few months ago I wrote about community-centered fundraising, a response to the donor-centered fundraising model, which, while effective to bring in funding in the short term, inadvertently creates many of the inequities our sector is trying to address. Our default fundraising philosophy, unfortunately, amounts to “do whatever you can to raise as much money for your own organization as possible, and don’t worry about other orgs.” This aligns with and stems from this belief that our individual mission is all that matters. I don’t think this is good. We need to get out of this mindset.
To fully unlock our sector’s full potential and effectively address society’s growing challenges, we’re going to have to care about one another’s missions, not just our own. We must be less mission-driven and more community-driven.
Read the full article about the benefits of being less mission-driven by Vu Le at Nonprofit AF.