And while nonprofit staff and leadership greatly appreciated the advice on how to avoid mission creep, board members asked a key question that we did not get to cover in that initial article: “What if we’re already dealing with mission creep – how do we respond?”
So, in this article we are going to address mission creep from that perspective. What do you do when mission creep is already happening? How can you recognize it? And what do you do to stop it?
Mission creep can have a wide range of negative effects on a nonprofit, including:
Unfortunately, mission creep causes nonprofit casualties every year, which is why one of the most important parts of nonprofit planning is deciding when to say yes and when to say no as opportunities are presented. So, let’s take a look at how to avoid the trap of mission creep.
When asked why she is excited about the role Elise remarked,
Having lived on Whidbey since 1998, I’ve been an ardent admirer of Goosefoot's innovative efforts to address many of South Whidbey's most pressing challenges. I couldn’t be more delighted and honored to serve in this capacity—and to get to work with Goosefoot's exceptional staff and board to strategically tackle the next set of priorities.
Equity and social justice have been at the very foundation of my vocation and life journey for the past 20 years. My personal and professional experience has been driven by the belief that the resources exist for all people to thrive, and public private partnership are critical to ensuring equitable access to housing, education and employment. On a deeply personal level, I know the impact of refugee resettlement. My father arrived to the United States as a refugee from Vietnam, and as the daughter of a refugee, I continue to learn the stories of my family and community. The mission and work of Tacoma Community House aligns perfectly with my life journey, professional experience and life work. I am honored to serve as the Executive Director of Tacoma Community House.
In the past it tended to be an informal position held by another leadership executive that was the Executive Director’s go-to person for help, but because more is being asked of Executive Directors these days there is a greater need for a more formal nonprofit COO role now to help handle these added expectations.
From 2020 to 2022 we saw what became known as “The Great Resignation.” That means that as some leaders left their leadership posts, others took their places. By now though, for some of those new leaders, the honeymoon may be coming to an end. They can no longer blame the previous leader for “leaving a mess.”
Listen up: It’s time for some real talk. If you have been dealing with that “mess” for over a year, it is now YOUR mess that you haven’t taken care of. New leaders who came in with promises of new directions, contacts, and results are now at a point where board members will start asking, “Where’s the Beef!?” (Look it up! It’s a dated pop culture reference!)
The weight of the toll depends largely on the nature of the work being done, with nonprofits in the social services-type spaces (addiction, sex trafficking, domestic abuse, homelessness, food insecurity, etc.) carrying the heaviest weights. However, regardless of the focus of the mission, employees in the nonprofit sector working for the betterment of people, animals, the environment, or the community at large, all bring home some measure of emotional baggage as a result of caring so much, so often.
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