What's missing from most nonprofit mission statements?

Last week I wrote a post that ruffled some feathers.
I do that from time to time. It’s probably because everything I think, write and create begins with the donor in mind — not the fundraiser. Sorry. I guess it’s because I think “donor-centricity” is a term that’s tossed around a lot but isn’t truly applied properly enough.
Keep in mind, I started this business and invented our technology because I’m a pissed-off donor.
I want fundraisers to focus on me, not my transactions. I want them to understand why I care and how I want to find meaning in my life more than understanding how to get myself a tax deduction.
Anyway, today’s post is along the same lines as last week’s. 
Take a look at the following mission statements and see if you can guess what’s missing.

  • American Diabetes Association: To prevent and cure diabetes and improve the lives of all people affected by diabetes. See it here.
  • American Cancer Society: The American Cancer Society is the nationwide community-based voluntary health organization dedicated to eliminating cancer as a major health problem by preventing cancer, saving lives, and diminishing suffering from cancer, through research, education, advocacy, and service. No matter who you are, we can help. Contact us anytime, day or night, for information and support. Plus see their statement of values here.
  • World Vision: World Vision is an international partnership of Christians whose mission is to follow our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in working with the poor and oppressed to promote human transformation, seek justice, and bear witness to the good news of the Kingdom of God. See it here.

Did you figure out what’s missing?
The donor!
Fascinating isn’t it? In fact, search mightily. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a charity mission statement that includes their donors — the very people that provide the funding to fulfill each charity’s mission. The people who work hard their entire lives, then give away their hard-earned dollars. The people who care so deeply they give until it hurts and sometimes lessen their own children’s inheritances to make room for their beloved charities.
Is it me or is something wrong with the fact that nonprofit mission statements fail to include the people that make it all possible?
I’m thinking this is exactly why donor retention rates among nonprofits are in the toilet. How on earth can nonprofits expect to have high donor retention rates if they don’t even include their donors — their needs and their desires to find meaning in their lives — in the mission statement?
What do you think? Should donors be included in nonprofit mission statements?
P.S. – In case you’re wondering, yes… nonprofits are mentioned in my firm’s mission statement. So are supporters.
MarketSmart mission statement


>> How to Write an Amazing Nonprofit Mission Statement
>> 10 Killer Nonprofit Mission Statements to Learn From

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Laura Waller
7 years ago

… Because donors are constituents too!! It’s about service, not sales or pushing a product. If we create a pathway to success for donors, then that will lead to success for the organization.

7 years ago
Reply to  Laura Waller

Thanks so much Laura.

David A. Mersky
7 years ago

Don’t ever stop…people who react badly to your righteous indignation are the problem and not the solution.

7 years ago

Thanks David. Looking forward to seeing you next week!

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