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July 19, 2022

Mission Multiplier: Describe Your Mission in Three Words

Jane Pfeiffer

Hello. Welcome to this week’s Mission Multiplier. I’m Jane Pfeiffer, founder and president of Fieldtrip. At Fieldtrip we work with nonprofit and purpose-driven organizations helping their leaders eliminate the most costly expenses that they have. And that’s the expense of “I don’t knows.” I don’t know you. I don’t know if you can fix this problem. I don’t know if I can help you or if I want to. It’s those friction points that really limit the mission that you’re so committed to. So last week I talked about if you’re explaining, you’re losing. So, for example, if I said I’m a marketing agency and we create logos and websites and buy media, your interest would be milliseconds short.

But when I talk about the impact of what we do – that we eliminate your most expensive cost, that friction point of “I don’t know’s,” I’m drawing you into the conversation. So the inspiration can come from a number of places, but one place that it’s usually rooted in is brand essence, or you can just call it a three word mission. But it’s really important that you’re not explaining, you’re inspiring. Let’s take a couple of examples from the for-profit world using brands that you’re going to recognize. The example I gave last week was “we feed children breakfast.” So feed children breakfast is their brand essence that’s explaining when you say that your organization is nourishing tomorrow’s minds, that’s inspirational. It’s making people think and provoke thought. And they’re thinking about the power and the impact of having a smart mind for tomorrow as opposed to the logistics of feeding a child breakfast.

So again, back to those for profit examples. “Nike, authentic athletic performance.” You can look it up on the Internet. That’s part of their brand platform. And it’s not about equipment, shoes or, you know, any type of feature from what they sell. It’s that they’re honoring authentic athletes that could be professional athletes, that could be people who are trying to force themselves to run every day, the whole gamut. Another name that you’ll recognize is “magical moments.” So that belongs to Disney. When you think about the movies that you see or visiting a park or the costume that your young child may put on to become a different person, those are all magical moments. And then there’s another one rewarding everyday moments. And this one might take a bit of thought because it’s Starbucks but you think about why you visit Starbucks. It might just be as simple as celebrating yourself or the one thing that gets you through those tough mornings. Those examples use a common formula that we see with brand essence – the three word mission.

And that’s an adjective, an adjective and a noun. So that’s a helpful guide, but it’s not an absolute. It’s definitely not a do or die type rule. Here are some examples for some very real nonprofits. I’m not going to name the organizations and some that are hypothetical. So I talked about children’s breakfast program, Nourishing Tomorrow’s Mind. What about an organization that helps people coming out of incarceration reenter successfully into society? That organization is healing human spirits. It’s not about a halfway house or rehabilitation services or job training. It’s about the healing that happens to the essence of that person, their spirit. Another example for addiction recovery might be one step forward or small steps forward or finding the life you deserve. Again, it’s about the impact.

For Fieldtrip, it’s multiplying missions. That’s where the theme of this video series comes from. And we also use another one quite frequently called “United We Create,” because, again, our work has to happen with and for the clients that we’re working with, and we have to empower them to be able to carry on long after they do a project with us. And so united we create results. United we create impact. It’s provoking thought. So as you do this for yourself, there are a couple rules, of course, no explaining, but focus on your impact, not your actions. It has to be something that’s unique to you. Even though these examples are not specific about what happens and what’s done, you can tie it back to the original organization. It has to inspire and it has to align people. So again, focus on impact, be unique, inspire and align. And what that last one means is it’s so simple that everyone in your organization can remember those three words and connect it to the work that you do. That sounds simple, but the larger your organization gets and the more it evolves over time, the harder it is to make sure that everybody has that simple understanding and the barest essence of what your organization is about. And that’s a powerful thing. So if it doesn’t meet those criteria, it just simply won’t work. It’ll become words on a paper, and you don’t have time to spend energy on creating words that don’t work. That’s it for this week. Thanks for watching and be sure to visit it’s to sign up for more weekly videos.