As I mentioned two weeks ago, I’m one year into my first experience as a volunteer board member with the United Caring Shelters here in Evansville, Indiana. I’ve served on other boards, but always as a representative of something else – the churches I’ve served primarily. But this time, I sought out and chose the mission of UCS and the board chose me to share in their mission. I am learning much about
myself and about being a board member, and I want to share some of that with you.
The Hebrew scriptures remind us, “Without vision, people stumble.” And when it comes to board leadership, without a constant focus on mission, your beloved organization will also stumble. When it comes to the not-for-profit, the appropriate mantra is: Mission, Mission, Mission.
The mission is the plumb line for all aspects of your organization. Perhaps I should explain a plumb line. Imagine a string suspended in the air with a weight secured to the end that dangles freely. When the weight comes to rest and is no longer swinging, the string becomes an accurate vertical reference indicating a line exactly perpendicular to a level plane. In other words, using a plumb line, you can build a wall exactly vertical to Earth.
For a board member, the mission becomes the standard by which programs, finances, new initiatives, marketing, hiring decisions – everything about your organization – is measured. If a grant proposal for a new program seems out of line with the mission, deeper questions need to be asked – does this new program help us accomplish what we’re here to accomplish?
At Habitat for Humanity of Evansville, our vision is a world where everyone has a decent place to live. Our mission is seeking to put God’s love into action, we bring people together to build homes, communities and hope. If anything falls outside of that, we would do best to let someone else pick it up, while we stick steadfast to our mission.
Next time, I want to talk about the biggest secret that every not-for-profit board member needs to know – why people give to your organization.