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How we Define a Mission-Driven Organization

How we define mission-driven organization may be a bit broad, but it’s for three good reasons. Times have changed, as have the challenges we face in our world.

Blurring Boundaries

Society’s previous plan of attack was through government, not-for-profits, or corporate philanthropy. How’s that been working out for us?

Why should it matter who is trying to solve a problem? Let’s focus on the solving, not who’s doing it. Click to Tweet

According to William Eggers and Paul Macmillan in their book The Solution Revolution, not as well as possible. In it, they make a case for what they call a burgeoning new economy where players from across the spectrum of business, government, philanthropy, and social enterprise converge to solve big problems and create public value.

“Where tough societal problems persist, citizens, social enterprises, and yes, even businesses, are relying less and less on government-only solutions. More likely, they are crowdfunding, ride-sharing, app-developing, or impact-investing to design lightweight solutions for seemingly intractable problems…By erasing public-private sector boundaries, they are unlocking trillions of dollars in social benefit and commercial value.”

Why should it matter who is trying to solve a problem? From the encroaching threats of global warming to ensuring access to basic healthcare, let’s focus on the solving, not who’s doing it.

It’s Not About You

One of the more compelling factors influencing how we define mission-driven organizations is focus. In traditional marketing, the focus is on the transaction. How many? At what price point? With what margins? Even for for-profit social enterprises, the focus is not on the transaction. It’s about what—together—the company and consumer can do to move the needle on an important issue.

The most effective nonprofit marketing embraces that dynamic as well. Over time, many nonprofit organizations can suffer from focus creep, where the message shifts to their work with little reference to how their supporters can feel connected to it.

Even for for-profit social enterprises, the focus is not on the transaction. It’s about what—together—the company and consumer can do to move the needle on an important issue. Click to Tweet

Transferred Learnings

If experience has taught me anything, it’s that everyone and every situation has lessons to teach if you’re open to them. We have seen how our experience working in the for-profit sector has improved how we support traditional not-for-profit organizations. And to say that we have learned important lessons from not-for-profits is a gross understatement.

By focusing exclusively on social enterprises or not-for-profit organizations, we would lose the ability to transfer learning from one type of organization to another. The way we define mission-driven organization in and of itself helps us better serve them and their causes.

Because of blurring boundaries, a common focus, and the ability to transfer learning from one group to another, we are here to help anyone on a mission beyond increasing shareholder value.

Douglas Spencer

Douglas Spencer

Douglas Spencer is a brand strategist with more than 20 years of experience in marketing and branding. He has worked with professionals from around the world in verticals such as financial and professional services, healthcare, biotech, media, and nonprofit. Before starting Spencer Brenneman he was most recently Vice President, Global Head of Brand Management for Thomson Reuters, a leading provider of intelligent information with offices in more than 100 countries worldwide. In that role, he guided the migration of the multiple Thomson and Reuters businesses to form the new Thomson Reuters brand which consistently ranked within the top 50 of Interbrand's Best Global Brands survey. He is also the author of Do They Care? The one question all brands should ask themselves, continually, a book that shows business leaders how they can create meaningful connections with customers, employees, and others. Douglas is a frequent speaker on how strong brands improve business performance through strategic alignment, employee engagement, brand governance, verbal and visual identities and more.

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