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Volunteer Power News — Number 42
Author: Thomas W. McKee
"Volunteer Power News" Monthly Newsletter

© 2006 Advantage Point Systems Publishing

A warm welcome to all volunteer managers—those of you who recruit, motivate and mobilize volunteer workers.

In this Issue:

1. What is the difference between a Mission and a Vision Statement?
2. Volunteer Power Workshops or Key-Note Presentations for Your Organization


What is the difference between a Mission and a Vision Statement?

  • Who cares?
  • Why is the mission statement essential in a volunteer program?

Last week I had the opportunity to facilitate a strategic plan with 12 leaders of an organization. The group had requested that I help them develop a mission statement and a vision statement, so in preparation, I asked myself again the question, "What really is the difference between a mission statement and a vision statement?"

I wondered what the experts said, so I googled that question, and I got 6,300,000 answers.

One of the most humorous answers came from Tom Perez, developer of Meaning At Work who claims that . . .

A mission statement contains two semicolons, two dashes and at least two business words.

While a vision statement contains only one dash, but makes up for it with at least one run-on sentence.

And to be at all credible, a company's mission and vision statements combined must include at least five of the following terms and phrases:

  • "high performance"
  • world class"
  • "diversity"
  • "empowerment"
  • "employees are our most important asset"
  • "exceeds"
  • "delight(s)"
  • "right the first time"
  • "everyone's job"
  • "puts people first"
  • "puts the customer first"

He went on to say that when the leaders of an organization develop a mission statement, they often spend eight hours in a hotel meeting room, during which the organization's 35 employees consume 102 donuts, 90 cups of coffee, 68 soft drinks (including 24 cans of Jolt Cola), 35 boxed lunches, and countless peppermint candies.

The result is the following:

Our mission is to develop a high-performance mission statement -- one that puts the customer first, puts employees first, and does it right the first time -- in a way that delights anyone who had concerns that this mission statement would actually mean something; in order to show that employees can exceed expectations for how much unhealthy food they can consume during a single work day; and so we can get out of this damn hotel room with its thermostat that we can't control and end this madness an hour early.

And their vision statement was:

Our vision is to be a world-class organization -- one that becomes a benchmark for other organizations, so they can copy what we do and get it right in about five years, by which time we will be light years ahead of them; one that impresses its customers the first time and every time with its plastic-laminated mission and vision statements; and one that fully empowers its employees so they aren't forced to spend an entire day in a freezing-cold hotel meeting room churning out run-on sentences while the real work backs up.

(Read more of this humorous and informative article from Tom Perez.)

I have two questions:

1. So what - why do we need a mission statement - from the volunteer's perspective?
2. So what is a vision statement - from the volunteer's perspective?

So What - Why Do We Need A Mission Statement?

A mission statement should excite the passion of the volunteer. A mission statement should be the rallying point of your organization. It is your cause. It is why you exist. And your volunteers must have a passion for that cause.

Look at these examples:

PRIDE Industries: Create Jobs for People With Disabilities

Habitat for Humanity: Habitat for Humanity works in partnership with God and people everywhere, from all walks of life, to develop communities with people in need by building and renovating houses so that there are decent houses in decent communities in which every person can experience God's love and can live and grow into all that God intends.

Girl Scouts: Girl Scouting builds girls of courage, confidence and character, who make the world a better place!

Kathy Cloninger, Chief Executive Officer of Girl Scouts, writes about their new mission statement:

"When Juliette Low started Girl Scouts in 1912, she wanted girls to build their own skills and values and give back to their country through leadership and service. How could Girl Scouts help girls do this? Juliette said: 'Let's take it to the girls and ask them."' They did. The 1912 mission statement was:

To train girls to take their rightful places in life, first as good women, then as good citizens, wives and mothers."

Kathy adds, "Ninety-three years later, we're still asking girls, and they're eager to tell us:

  • Girls want to explore new adventures and build courage.
  • Girls want to discover their abilities and build confidence.
  • Girls want to build character to live the Girl Scout Promise and Law.
  • Girls want to improve their world and speak out on issues they care about.
  • Girls want an all-girl place, to find their voice and become leaders.

"Our new Mission tells girls: 'We hear you. And we'll deliver what you need.' Why does Girl Scouts need a new Mission statement? Because, if we're going to be girls' best choice to face tough challenges and achieve grand dreams in this fast-changing world, we need a clear, memorable statement that inspires girls all over America to join Girl Scouts and grow strong in our sisterhood. Our new Mission, which is easy to remember and quote (and can fit on a tee shirt) . . ." Source: Girl Scouts Leader Magazine

A mission statement is essential for my recruiting. I am not recruiting a volunteer for a job, but a specific task to fulfill a mission. When your volunteers believe that they are making a difference, you can tap into their passion.

To write a mission statement I use the following four questions:

  1. Who are we?
  2. What do we do?
  3. Whom do we serve?
  4. What benefit (service, impact) do we provide for those we serve?

After I answer each of those questions in ten words or less, I then use those answers to write a one or two sentence mission statement.

So What is a Vision Statement?

Although you can read five authors who will give you five different answers, I define the mission and vision statements this way:

Mission: Your Cause - Why you exist and the service you provide for the people you serve. It is what you do best.

Vision: Your Future - What you are going to do to accomplish your mission in the next year or few years. It is what your future is going to look like because you do your mission so well.

I like to think of my vision statement as my Big Hairy Audacious Goal - to borrow the term from Jim Collins in Good to Great.

Two examples of vision statements

Space Race
That this Nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon, and returning him safely to earth
- John F. Kennedy--May 25, 1961

Ford Motor Company
To build a motor car for the great multitude . . . It will be so low in price that no man making a good salary will be unable to own one--and enjoy with his family the blessing of hours of pleasure in God's great open spaces . . . Everybody will be able to afford one, and everyone will have one. The horse will have disappeared from our highways, the automobile will be taken for granted.
- Henry Ford, 1907

As I met with the 12 leaders last week, we developed a vision statement. Then we brainstormed for an hour and listed everything we wanted to do in the next few years to fulfill our mission. We came up with about 25 ideas-some really Big Hairy Audacious ideas. Out of that list we chose one vision statement that became our goal for the next two years. In two years they will write another vision statement.

This is my take. Important things to remember in developing mission and vision statements:

  • The process is often more important than the product. When people take time to discuss the two most important questions,
    1. Whom do we serve?
    2. How do we benefit those we serve?
    They learn more about each other, their work, their customers, and their overall system.
  • When developing mission and vision statements, involve people from all areas and levels of the organization. They're the ones who will be making it happen.
  • MISSION statements should focus your cause. They answer the question, "Why do we exist?"
  • VISION statements project your future in wild ideas.

For more information of developing mission statement and strategic planning retreats see the following resources on Volunteer Power: Strategic Planning Retreat

Volunteer Power Workshops or Key-Note Presentations for Your Organization

Consider one of the following topics (or several of the topics) for a Volunteer Power Workshop

The Seven Deadly Sins of Recruiting
And what to do about them to increase your active volunteers

Some Cats Got It . . . Some Cats Don't
How to maximize the power and passion of the volunteer organization

Ten Really Cool Things that You Need to Know about Volunteering That You Are Not Hearing
What is new in volunteer management

They Don't Play My Music Anymore
Leadership Strategies During Times of Change

The New Volunteer
New Rules for an Old Cause--Recruiting and Motivating 21st Century Volunteers Who Wants to Do It Their Way.

Contact Thomas W. McKee for Information: (916) 987-0359 or Tom@volunteerpower.com

Tom McKee is a leading volunteer management speaker, trainer and consultant. You can reach Tom at (916) 987-0359 or e-mail him at tom@advantagepoint.com. Other articles and free resources are available at www.volunteerpower.com.

For more articles by Thomas McKee, visit the Articles section on our website.