Community Service Mission Statement

The Beneficial Aspects of Community Service

In the current climate of fiscal conservatism and recovery from the economic crisis, a new focus on efficiency, sustainability and accountability has emerged. This is especially true of community service organizations, as people have less time and money to devote towards non-essential or philanthropic endeavors. As such, if you are considering starting a community service program, or are looking to increase the exposure of an existing program, a clearly stated and well-thought out mission statement is critically important.

This article is intended to provide some food for thought on establishing a community service organization with a clearly stated mission statement and objective. Doing so will not only clearly communicate to potential donors and volunteers the purpose of your organization’s work, but will also help to ensure that there is a thoughtful and congruent vision and purpose to guide your work internally.

Preparing your mission statement—objectives

While some organization attempt to start with a broad mission statement and work their way down to specifics, it is easier for many people to outline the specific objectives they want to accomplish, and build this up into an organizational philosophy of community service. A useful place to start is by thinking about the problem you are trying to solve or situation you are trying to effect. What area does the community service work lie in—education? , Public health? , Social services? , Environmental initiatives?

Another important consideration is who are the beneficiaries of your community service initiative? Is there a specific demographic or population that you are attempting to have an impact on? If so, where are the characteristics of the target population? In-depth knowledge about the population you are trying to reach will help enable you to define a clear and targeted mission statement. Even for community services which don’t target a specific demographic, such as environmental initiatives or other advocacy campaigns, knowing the actors involved and the people most likely to be interested in your cause will help make your organization more effective.

Accountability in community service

Another important purpose that a clear mission statement can serve is to ensure accountability—as discussed, this is becoming increasingly important to both donors and participants, who wish to be sure that time and resources they contribute will have an impact and be for good value. Accountability can flow between community service providers and beneficiaries, but also between community service providers and donors. When multiple lines of accountability exist, it can be diffused—as such, a clear mission statement can help clearly define lines of accountability.

One suggestion when writing your mission statement is to think about your organization’s objectives in terms of outputs and outcomes. Outputs refer to the specific, measurable things your community service organization hopes to achieve—for example, textbooks distributed, malaria nets donated, school lunches provided or trees planted. Outcomes refer to the broader objectives you seek to achieve, such as literacy rate improvements, malaria rate reductions, nutrition improvement or carbon dioxide offsets. When writing your mission statement, keeping these questions in mind will help make donors and volunteers confident about the value your community service organization provides, as well as help internally define activities to deliver results.