mission creep from the board

Mission Creep: Structuring Business Against It

Mission Creep

Mission Creep, also called mission drift, is when your activities within the organization begin to demonstrate something different than the mission indicates as your desired outcomes. It affects many organizations as they attempt to meet the different and changing needs of funders, client populations, and other stakeholders.

Mission Creep has been in the news lately, most notably in the Regional Arts and Culture Council in Portland Oregon. The council’s director of community engagement was quoted by Oregon Public Broadcasting to suggest that a broad mission that allows varied services can also allow mission creep. You may have heard recent public broadcasting stories about mission drift or mission creep.

Boards and B-Corporations

bcorp-handbook-headerThe challenge in every organization is to respond with the right products and services at the point of need of its customers. Boards keep the enterprise on track in a typical non-profit, but that policing can also slow the responsiveness of the organization.

B-corporations are required to weave mission and sustainability into the fabric of your corporation. They accomplish this through a requirement that your business “meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability, and aspire to use the power of markets to solve social and environmental problems” according to the B-Corp website.

Practically, that means addressing the interests of stakeholders including customers, shareholders, governing, and community interests. It may seem that requirements are constraining. But, you may find that the regulations on non-profits vastly outweigh those for a for-profit company.

Structure of Your Business

In addition to that imagery, consider 3 questions before you choose the structure of your business.

  1. Are you under the impression that non-profits always have low budgets and low pay for employees? The average non-profit CEO makes between $97,000 and $123,462. Seventy-six of 4,587 charities pay their CEOs more than $500,000 per year in compensation. Seventy of those have an annual budget above $13.5 million.
  2. Have you created an Outcome Logic Model for your business identifying the revenue streams that are possible within the business operations? The typical non-profit today makes only 21% of its revenue from donations. Over 72% comes from program service revenues which includes government contracts. Many of those contracts are open to non-profits and for-profits alike.
  3. Have you considered how your board and funding structure will impact the mission of your business? You may have heard recent public broadcasting stories about mission drift or mission creep. Guard your mission through the writing of your bylaws.