Mission Statements—Eight Words or Less or Forget It

By Carol Schadelbauer, May 22, 2013

PopTech via Flickr

What does your audience want to hear? That’s the first question we ask before we work with trainees on messaging, and with good reason: targeting your statements and messages to your audience is imperative. So, if your audience is a funder or donor, listen up. Kevin Starr’s article “The Eight-Word Mission Statement” in the Stanford Social Innovation Review just resurfaced in our email today. Dr. Starr is the managing director of the Mulago Foundation, which is focused on health, poverty, and conservation in the world’s poorest places. He writes:

“As investors in impact, we—the Mulago Foundation—don’t want to wade through a bunch of verbiage about “empowerment,” “capacity-building,” and “sustainability”—we want to know exactly what you’re trying to accomplish. We want to cut to the chase, and the tool that works for us is the eight-word mission statement. All we want is this:

A verb, a target population, and an outcome that implies something to measure—and we want in eight words or less.”

And then he gives a few examples from his global perspective:

Save kids’ lives in Uganda.

Rehabilitate coral reefs in the Western Pacific.

Prevent maternal-child transmission of HIV in Africa

“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.”

Great advice. And if funders feel this way, you can bet the policymakers and general reporters will appreciate clear, impactful mission statements and messaging as well.

no comments yet

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

See Posts Related To
Latest Tweets by @burness
Burness @Burness

07 Jul

What happened when teens were offered free, long-acting #birthcontrol in Colorado? The results are startling nyti.ms/1J2mqUD
Burness @Burness

06 Jul

How new drugs helping millions of Americans live longer are also making them go broke wpo.st/gadP0 via @Wonkblog @AnaSwanson
Burness @Burness

06 Jul

Screen Addiction Is Taking a Toll on Children nyti.ms/1G2ZJ0m via @NYTHealth http://t.co/EC53iBr7wZ
Burness @Burness

06 Jul

New strains of avian flu highlight the need for new science bit.ly/1HHRZXe via @thehill
Burness @Burness

04 Jul

"Freedom means the opportunity to be what we never thought we would be." -Daniel J. Boorstin #Happy4thofJuly http://t.co/4QNiVk92Aj