Taking Mission Time

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Since the end of June, there has been much discussion in the nonprofit sector about the implications of the recent legislative session. DANA has held meetings with state policy makers, coalition leaders, and our members to develop our upcoming advocacy strategy. What are we hearing?  Policy makers expect that this legislative session will continue to consider difficult funding choices.  Nonprofit leaders are trying to fulfill outcome commitments, with less resources due to cuts in state funding.  And many are on standby as they wait to hear of about federal funding priorities. Some nonprofit leaders have expressed concerns on how they will weather all of this change.

As nonprofits, we are part of dynamically changing system.  Our organization’s ability to adapt requires not only a nimble internal system and well thought out plans, but methods to measure progress, learn lessons and change course if needed.  The latter is more important than ever.  When it comes to prioritizing our time, we tend to focus on getting things done.  But equally important is stepping back and reflecting on whether what is getting done still matters the way it used to… or you thought it would.

David Grant one our speakers from our 2017 IMPACT Delaware DANA annual conference called this Mission Time.  Mission Time permits a nonprofit board and its leadership to take a moment to reaffirm that what they do still matters.  This practice provides some space for innovative thinking, can be a source to infuse enthusiasm, and garner engagement from board members and the broader community.

At DANA, we encourage Mission Time on a regular basis.  For example, once a month the leadership team can gather for lunch and talk about what is working and brainstorm on opportunities for change.  Board meetings are great opportunities for Mission Time.  Consider carving out a segment at each meeting to understand a trend that can impact your organization’s mission, review progress towards key goals, and discuss course corrections as needed.  And once a year, reflect on how the leadership, board group, and each board member are contributing towards the mission’s success.  Identifying what they will need to know or believe in order to advance the organization’s mission the following year, and create a learning plan to support that need.  It is tempting to postpone Mission Time discussions, yet imagine how much better positioned your leadership team and board would be when if a disruptive change event occurs.

DANA has many resources to help you explore Mission Time – whether it is reflecting on your advocacy policy, working through succession plans, identifying new strategies, or revisiting the vision.  Give us a call or visit our Consulting & Workshops page for more information. We want to help you navigate this changing landscape so you can continue to do the good work you do.