Setting Aside Time For Mission-Think

Nonprofit leaders know they need to assess how the organization is doing, in terms of mission, day-to-day operations, image, etc.

Despite the knowledge, however, they don’t always find the time to conduct or even plan for assessment.


In his book “The Social Profit Handbook,” David Grant emphasizes the importance of actively setting aside time for assessment and protecting that time from other more urgent demands. He calls that “mission time.” Then, once the time has been allocated and protected, Grant suggests the following as the best use of it:

* Gathering and interpreting information. One of the benefits of mission time is that it allows people who work together to ask, “Is there any information we don’t have that we should have?” The answer is inevitably yes, and then they can figure out how to get it.


* Diagnosing the current situation. The sturdiest exercise for determining what’s going on with an organization and what needs attention is the SWOT analysis: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats. Have people address these area individually and in groups.


* Having some purposeful fun. Tell each group: Imagine that five years from now our organization is on the cover of a magazine. Choose the magazine, design the cover and headline and write the first paragraph or two of the article. When results are compared, one utterance that often arises is “We can do that.”