Life and Mission

Four Words Every Nonprofit Leader Needs to Master

May 20, 2021 Kay Helm Episode 64
Life and Mission
Four Words Every Nonprofit Leader Needs to Master
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Mission and vision are words we hear often, but we can struggle to differentiate between them. As leaders, communicators, and fundraisers, the confusion can cost us.

We have a great cause! Why won’t people join us? Why don’t they give?

Maybe it’s because we’re not being clear. They can’t see the big picture, and they don’t understand what we’re doing or how what we do fits in with the big picture. In this episode, I’m talking about vision, mission, goals, something I call handles, and how all of these work together.

  1. Vision (1:24)
  2. Mission (4:14)
  3. Goals (7:34)
  4. Handles (8:33)

Understanding these four words, and training our team to use them in the same way, will help us to more easily see our collaborators, and connect with the hearts of the people that God sends across our paths. It will help us to express more freely and more clearly what we’ve set out to do, and how people can be a part of it.

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Kay Helm:

Hey there, this is the life and mission podcast. I'm Kay Helm, and this week is a little departure from the usual interview to tackle a topic that I run into all the time. And that is, we're not sure how to talk about our vision. So what's your vision? What's your mission? And what's the difference? Damn talking about vision, mission goals, and something I call handles and how all of these work together. And it's going to be kind of short and sweet. But I'll go into more detail in the coming weeks over at Kay Helm calm. mission, and vision are words that we hear a lot, but we struggle, I think, to differentiate between them, okay, I've heard them used interchangeably. And as leaders, communicators, fundraisers, this confusion can cost us. Even as we talk about these things within our organizations, we've got different people who come with different definitions of what is vision, what is mission. So we use these words, but we're not always clear on what they mean, vision mission that gets switched up a lot. And even goals can get mixed up in there, especially with vision, it's really kind of strange. But it gets muddy, and it gets confusing and confused. People do not give, they don't volunteer, when we're not clear in our communications, it's just hard for people to join us. So let's start with the big one. Vision. This is the big picture. This is the ideal future that we're working to see. And I really didn't grasp just how big this thing was. Until I heard Mary Villone say that vision is something so big that you probably won't live to see it. Vision is something you leave to the next generation to actually finish or maybe the generation after that. We don't let that discourage us. But a big vision is inspiring. And what we do sometimes is we go well, that's so big, it's impossible, or it's so big, or I won't see that. And then we let that discouragement lead. And then we end up with a vision that's too small. Again, that's part of it will affect how people will join us, we're going to join like the way everybody likes to be part of a winning team, right? So we say we want to see a world without cancer. We want to see a world without malaria. What's it gonna take? Okay, these are works of a lifetime, for sure. Maybe it's not the whole world, maybe it's a region, maybe it's a group that you're working with. That's still big, okay, there can be maybe a small so I started out here talking about the world, a world without cancer, maybe you've got a problem in your own community, that's just it's a really big, it's a complex problem. And so it's going to take a long time for that thing to be solved. And so you see, that can still be a big vision, even when it's in a more limited geographic space. So I just want to see this, that big and big picture can look like it like some different things, right? It might be clean water, for every village in Uganda, it might be a family, for every foster kid in my state, it might be a mentor, for every at risk child in my community. those are those are visions. It's big, right? vision is big, it's inspiring. It's somewhere between that thing I've always hoped for, and the utterly impossible. Vision paints a picture of the world as we'd like it to be, it's something we can get behind, we can get behind that say this is a good thing. So on this podcast, I say change the world and I say it every single day. What is the change that you want to see? The start there, that's your vision. The great thing about a big vision is that there are others who have that same vision or they have a similar vision. And we can come together and find ways to collaborate, kind of think of the big vision as like the umbrella, right? And, and all of us that are working to see that vision fulfilled. We come underneath that umbrella and we're all working towards that big vision, but we're doing different things to fulfill that vision. So there might be different ways to work towards making that vision a reality. And you think about how are you or how is your organization working towards that vision. That is your mission. So mission is the specific role that we play in bringing the vision about some of us are going to do research, some are going to focus on awareness or education. Some are going to work to change laws or to establish new systems. Some are going to be more more physical kind of hands-on activities like digging wells or coming alongside the change makers that are there. Working in their communities, maybe in another part of the world. And we're encouraging and equipping. So your mission is going to, you're going to have a specific role towards bringing that vision to be. The beautiful thing about mission is that my gifts and my calling my education, my experience and skills, all of those come into play. And that's part of why I approach the problem in the way that I do. And then the way that you're wired and though the gifts that you have, and the education you have, and the experience that you have all those skills, that's why you approach it in the way that you do. So if the vision is the dream, the mission is the specific work that you or your organization does to make that vision, a reality. And you can think, too, and we don't want to forget this, that our donors have a vision and a mission. That's why it's so important that we listen to our donors, why are they drawn to this work? How are they aligned with the vision and why there's probably a story there. And we might find that we have similar stories, and then we have more in common than we think we do. So we do all of this in relationship. So I want you to see this very clearly, this is not just about money. I know we talked about fundraising, but it's not just about money. It's really about relationship. And it's about also bringing other things to bear. Because money alone isn't going to solve these problems. We need people to give their time, their experience, their skills, their expertise, hearts. We really think about each other and look at each other, each one playing his role, that unique role, and not just saying, Well, I have these slots to fill with these activities. But really, also we want to say what is God doing? What's got What's he doing in you? What's he doing in me? What is God doing in the region or the area where we're working? Or in that area in that in that stream? Like, like, our ministry works with mental health and right now, okay, wow, a lot of stuff happening in mental health right now. So what what's happening? And what, what is God doing in that issue that we're working on? And so you see, when you look at it this way, you see that the open doors that we have today, are different from the open doors that we had maybe two years ago. And the open doors that we're going to have tomorrow are going to be different. So how can we work together in this season to move, move toward that vision in light of all the different dynamics that are at play? So that's when we start getting into goals. Now, goals are even more specific expression of the mission. I'm gonna say that, again, goals are even more specific expressions of the mission. Goals are time bound. Like they're things like we're going to train 300 pastors in the next 18 months, or we're going to get dig 20 wells, or we're going to plant 12 churches. And we're going to do that by the end of next year. Are you with us? Now see how easy it was for me to ask you to get on board with that, here's what we're gonna do. Here's our plan are you in. And so I can clearly express the vision, the mission, the goals, and if I can do that, then it's clear there's a plan, and that we're in motion, we are going to do the thing. We've got a heart, you've got a heart, Hey, come on, there's a place for you in this. So it might go something like


We want to see the vision. And we're going to - so you put your mission. And we're going to do this to bring the vision about, well, how are we going to do that? Well, in the next time period, right? We're going to there's a goal. And after that we're going to and then you can talk about the next phase, right? And then the donor says, How can I help? And that's where you say, "Give me all your money now." No, that's not what you say! That's just the transaction right? Now we want relationship, okay, stay with me. This is where we need handles. So handle is simply something to grab hold of, right? Really easy. We're going to do this thing. We're working toward the vision, and we're going to do X, Y, Z to see that vision fulfilled. Now, because I know you and I listened to you. We shared our stories and our passion and I learned something about your life and experience and your heart and what God is doing in you. Now I know that this handle right here is the handle for you. I would really like for you to help us in this would you grab hold of this. So we think about the handles. These are the parts of the mission that people grab onto and run with and when somebody can literally put their hands to work toward that vision. they own it. They're in They're committed to it, and they're going to they're going to do it, they're going to commit to it, they're going to share about it. Also a little tidbit volunteers also give more, you just get people to handle and let them get involved, you might have a mission where as you're doing the work, people really kind of have to get involved to understand what you actually do. And so that's, it's a great opportunity, if you can give them handles give them that kind of inside access of being part of it, that's a wonderful thing. And, you know, yeah, you're gonna have, you're gonna have different kind of levels of handles, you're gonna have handles that you can just be like, like, I need somebody, anybody to grab all this handle, because we got some heavy weight to lift in everybody, we can get on here, grab a handle, let's go. And so you're going to have things that you can do that, but then you can also have some very specific handles that are going to need certain very specific skills. And so you may have to pray those in, you may have to advertise for those you met, I mean, you're gonna ask around, you're going to use your connections to try and find the people with that. Because here's, here's the deal, that the handle might be a short term trip, it might be building something or putting something together it might be writing something might be repairing something, or it might be giving money, it might be inviting somebody to meet with your director, it might be offering some expertise on your corporate structure, or your business practices that might make you a healthier organization. It might be helping to build the team, it might be giving financial advice. It might be writing code, or I mean, it can be it can be all kinds of stuff. The important thing is that each person grabs the handle that fits their hands, I'm going to say that again, as much as possible, help people grab the handles that fit their hands. And then together, we're going to work towards the vision. So that's my little collection of of words, I really think we need to understand vision, mission, goals and handles, and that and we we put those in the right place. This will help us to more easily see our collaborators, not just competitors in the space, but collaborators. It helps us more easily connect with the hearts of the people that God sends across our paths. And it helps us to express more freely and more clearly what it is that we've set out to do and how somebody might be a part of it. So I hope you found this helpful. I'll be expanding on these concepts over on my website, and the show notes will be at you can pick up a transcript there. And I haven't talked about this much on the podcast, but I do help missionaries and organizations tell powerful and effective stories so that they can be fully funded. I'm working on some projects and resources for you in that area. So stay tuned. I will let you know on the podcast when those things are ready. In the meantime, I am Kay Helm. And this is the Life and Mission podcast. Find your voice. Tell your story. Change the world.