Mission, vision, and values are standard fair for organizations that want a strategic focus. These are important elements that should guide a mission-minded organization.
A growth challenge occurs when an organization relies upon its mission statement to help build momentum. The truth is that mission statements are guardrails that should guide our priorities and decisions within the organization. These statements are really for you, not for those you hope to reach.
Building momentum for your organization won't come from your mission statement- no matter how strong. The same thing holds true for your values and vision statement. All of these vital internal guidelines have one thing in common- they represent "potential energy" rather than social proof.
You need Kinetic Energy, not just potential
Mission, vision, and values-all speak to the ideals and priorities of the organization, rather than the actual momentum and velocity of change. People "join up" when you can transfer some of the actual passion and confidence from those who are experiencing change.
To move people you have to shift from sharing "potential energy" in the form of mission statements and future ideals to providing tangible personal evidence that something is already happening. That is best delivered by focusing on brand stories instead of mission statements.
How is a brand story different than a mission statement?
Mission statements serve us best because they help us to say "no." And it's helpful in guiding resources and focusing work from the support you already have. Building support in a nonprofit or in a business doesn't come from knowing what not to do, but rather getting people to "yes."
The next "yes" will always come from a previous "yes." Prospective customers, volunteers, or any other kind of supporter are most likely to move forward when they can become attached to the energy of someone else who has already said yes. Passionate support is what leads to more passionate support. Confidence in the power of what you are doing comes from others who are already confident- if they learn to share that passion.
How to move from mission statement to brand story
The critical first step in moving from reliance on the mission statement to building momentum with a brand story is to unleash your most passionate storytellers. It's a mistake to think that client testimonials for nonprofits are the most powerful voices. Many nonprofits default to the "poster child" approach, by celebrating the success of a singular victory in helping. If you are a nonprofit, the most critical storytellers are not recipients of your work, but it is the donors and volunteers who have bought into the work and who have the story that will attract others.
Real confidence in nonprofit work comes from "joining the team" of others who are truly passionate, have seen the outcomes of the work, and have committed their own resources of time and money. These are the storytellers that you want new donors and volunteers to emulate. When they are activated, the impact is immense.
If you are in a business working to build or rebuild a brand story, then your first converts will be your owners, investors, employees, and vendors. Their passionate story will become the basis for a growing brand story. Research bears out that people place a lot of trust in what employees say about an organization, and everyone knows that investment follows investment. No one wants to be first, but once investment begins to flow it becomes easier to find more.