Florida nonprofits: What is your mission plan?

Florida nonprofits: What is your mission plan?

Posted on May 24, 2012 by Pam Truitt

My last blog was about ‘possibilities.’ Judging by the comments, it struck a chord with many of you (big shout out to readers for answering the call for comments—and it was retweeted 11 times! )


This week I went back to the same source—a blog penned by Garvester Kelley of the Nonprofit Finance Fund (NFF)— thinking I’d focus on the nature of Kelley’s article. Kelley opined about nonprofit responses to a 2010 survey. I wanted to know what nonprofits are thinking today, so I found the 2012 survey.

If you are in the nonprofit space, you won’t be surprised by the title:  Nonprofit Finance Fund 2012 Survey: After Year of Adaptation, Fundamental Challenges Remain….60% of Human Service Organizations Can’t Meet 2012 Demand

Looking at some of the data for Florida (my home state), I found that 243 of the 4,500 total are Florida-based. Perhaps too small for statistical analysis, but certainly not too small to provide a picture of health. (Note: According to Tax Exempt World website, Florida is home to 101,252 organizations with nonprofit status.)

Without examining further, one can’t draw many conclusions from the snapshot, but one thing is clear: Florida nonprofits mirror the study’s conclusions. Sixty percent in the state report that they will not be able to meet the demand.

Now that’s a sobering reality.

I don’t have anything to compare with, but the financial health data looks a bit unsettling. Many organizations appear to be living paycheck to paycheck, with little to no reserves. I don’t have to tell readers how very difficult it is to think and plan ahead when you are putting all of the focus into keeping the lights on.

Is this new news to anyone on the planet?  Not likely.

But let’s not dwell on scarcity. Let’s think about possibilities.

Recently, Rob Lane, The Patterson Foundation's financial innovation consultant, came back from the Grantmakers for Effective Organizations conference and shared his learnings around mission plans. The difference between a business plan and a mission plan is rooted in five questions:

  1. What is your organization aiming to accomplish?
  2. What are your strategies for making this happen?
  3. What are your organization’s capabilities for doing this?
  4. How will your organization know if you are making progress?
  5. What have and haven’t you accomplished so far?

Do nonprofit leaders have the time or bandwidth to think about mission plans?  Knowing what they know now—that government funding could be a thing of the past, could the development of a mission plan be the first step in creating new realities for the 21st century?

Please share your thoughts and opinions!

  • Learn about these and other concepts used in TPF's approach to philanthropy.


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