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Section 3. Promoting Adoption of the Initiative's Mission and Objectives

Learn how to promote your organization's mission and objectives to help with organizational goals, such as financial or in-kind support and partnerships.


You believe in your work, and naturally you want others to believe in it. In fact, there are many ways your initiative can benefit when you encourage others to adopt its mission and objectives. This section shows what your initiative can gain by promoting your mission and objectives, and how you can do so effectively.

What do we mean by promoting adoption of the initiative's mission and objectives?

Promoting adoption of your initiative's mission and objectives can mean many things. In a broad sense, it can mean getting others--potential funders, other organizations, or members of the community--to think your program's mission and objectives are generally a good idea. However, promotion of your program's mission and objectives can be part of a more tangible goal, such as:

  • Getting others to provide financial or in-kind support
  • Getting other groups to do the same types of things you do, or to partner with you in an initiative
  • Getting others to promote your mission and objectives.

Promoting your organization's mission and objectives is a little bit different from promoting your group's activities. While you're probably accustomed to promoting what your group does--teaching adult literacy classes, providing meals to homeless people, or setting up infant immunization drives, for example--promotion of your mission and objectives involves, as much as anything, selling what you stand for. There are many ways you can go about doing this; this section will show you how.

A mission statement describes your organization's statement of purpose--what your group is going to do and why.

Objectives are short-term goals that your organization can use as intermediate markers of its progress.

As an analogy, suppose you decide to travel from Seattle, Washington to Memphis, Tennessee to visit Graceland. Your mission is to see Graceland. On your first day, you decide to drive 839 miles from Seattle to Salt Lake City. The second day of driving takes you to Kansas City. Your last day of driving ends in Memphis. These cities that you visit along the way are short-term goals, or objectives, with which you can gauge how much progress you're making on the way to your final destination.

Why promote the adoption of the initiative's mission and objectives?

By promoting your initiative's mission and objectives, you encourage others to take them to heart and make them their own. This will increase the overall impact of your work.

Promoting the adoption of your mission and objectives will also help insure that your work will continue when or if your group is no longer around (heaven forbid!)--or if you simply decide to move on to other things.

Your mission and objectives are part of your legacy, which you are handing down to your spiritual heirs. As with many non material legacies, you may want to line up your heirs in advance and maximize the chances that they are going to carry on your work.

Whom should you encourage to adopt your mission and objectives?

First and foremost, you will want to connect with people or groups that are similar to you or your group. They are more likely to be attracted to you and your work; and because of their similarity, they are more likely to have the people and other resources (e.g. time, money) to keep your work alive and moving forward.

So, for example, if you are a labor union working on occupational safety issues, you may want to target other unions to participate in your work. Parent-teacher groups aren't going to do much for you here. But if you want to work on increasing parental control of local schools, your primary target may be other PTAs.

To insure the longevity of your mission and objectives, you will also want to try to appeal to broader audiences as well. This is best done by winning over those who are influential to the general public.

These "opinion leaders" can be the members of local groups, which may include:

  • Civic organizations
  • Business groups
  • Grassroots organizations
  • School boards
  • Labor unions
  • Parent-teacher groups
  • Church organizations
  • The local press (editors, editorial boards, or just the beat reporters that normally cover your group or initiative)
  • Health organizations
  • Elected and appointed local government officials or entities
  • Grant makers

Depending on your goals, state/regional groups and national groups can also come into play.

Example: Potential adopters of the Jackson Falls CARE Program's mission and objectives

In Jackson Falls, the Child Abuse Reduction through Education (CARE) Program seeks to reduce the incidence of child abuse through a variety of educational means. Some of its methods include teaching anger management and parenting skills to parents, training teachers and school counselors to recognize signs of abuse, and teaching children to report any sort of abuse happening to themselves or their friends to a responsible adult. Lauryn Yamamoto, the director of CARE, wants to find other groups to adopt CARE's mission and objectives.

Care's mission:

"To lower the incidence of child abuse by educating parents, children, and school personnel about prevention techniques and the importance of reporting abuse early."

A few of Care's objectives:

  • To reduce the reported incidence of child abuse in Jackson Falls by 15% by January 1, 2001.
  • To have at least 200 parents complete the CARE parenting skills seminar by October 1, 2000.
  • To give annual presentations on Care's peer advocacy program to all students in grades 1 through 8 in the Jackson Falls Public Schools.
  • To have 150 students per year go through Care's peer advocacy training program.
  • To do a one-day in-service training each semester for all teachers and counselors in the Jackson Falls Public Schools.

Groups that CARE might be able to get to adopt the mission and some of the objectives:

  • The Jackson Falls Parent-Teacher Association
  • The Child Welfare Association
  • The local chapter of the National Education Association
  • The police department
  • Senator H. J. Bigpockets
  • The local Social and Rehabilitative Services office
  • Interfaith Council
  • The local Headstart office
  • Area substance use programs
  • The women's shelter

How do you get others to adopt your mission and objectives?

Here are some ideas to help you bring other groups and influential persons around to your way of thinking about what sort of things need to happen in your community and convince them to endorse your group or initiative's ideals, principles, and programs. Getting others to adopt your mission and objectives isn't something you do by following a specific series of steps, so you don't necessarily have to follow all of these suggestions. They're meant as a starting point for you and your group to begin making important contacts in the community.

Decide who you want to adopt your mission and objectives.

Figure out where you want to concentrate your efforts. As we said before, groups with similar goals to your own will be the most likely targets.

For example, if you run a coalition of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender organizations working to change the human rights code in your town, you will probably want to work on getting the support of other organizations that deal with minority group issues.

Cultivate bonds with those persons or groups.

Get to know these people! This can be done informally.

For example, the new director of the Labrador Falls Humane Society called the president of the local chapter of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, introduced himself, and set up a meeting over coffee to discuss goals the two groups had in common. As a result, the two groups eventually collaborated on several very successful anti-cruelty initiatives.

Never underestimate the power of schmoozing -- informal networking and casual conversation. Giving people a favorable impression of you personally will lead to them having a more favorable impression of your organization or initiative and what you're trying to accomplish. Ways to get to know people and groups whose goals are similar to your own -- include doing things like attending conferences and workshops, getting involved in regional and national coalitions, and participating in email lists related to your field or purpose.

You can also work on building formal partnerships, collaborative agreements, and coalitions. These ways of joining forces offer those groups and people you want to reach out to a more "official" way of adopting your mission and objectives.

Get the word out through the media.

Make yourself known. Any organization that is talked about in the newspapers and on television all the time is going to be more likely to draw support than one that nobody has ever heard of.

How much effort you put into this depends on how far you want to cast your net. If you are looking simply for local groups to adopt your mission and objectives, then use the local media. If you want others across the country or planet to pick up your work, then you're going to be online a lot, pushing your own website, and taking advantage of what electronic technology has to offer.

Show that your initiative has been tested in practice and proven to yield positive results.

Your chances of having others take your mission and objectives to heart will be greater if you can prove that your ideas work, that your programs accomplish what they're supposed to, or that your services are needed. Therefore, having proof of your accomplishments--usually in the form of evaluation results--is crucial.

Focus on mutual interests.

You've already identified groups with similar interests to your own. Now, as you prepare to approach these groups, it's time to zero in on the specific interests you have in common, and present yourself to these groups in terms of those interests.

Example: Shared interests of the Jackson Falls CARE Program and potential adopters

Back in Jackson Falls, Lauryn Yamamoto is trying to sell various local groups on adopting the mission and objectives of the CARE Program. She has made a list of groups to approach, and now she is making notes on what common interests her organization may share with these groups. With most of these groups it will simply be that both CARE and the group want what's best for the children, but Lauryn is trying to come up with a "spin" that is unique to the group whenever possible. Here's a look at what Lauryn has on her notepad:

Groups or individuals that Lauryn is thinking of approaching: Interest(s) that CARE shares with each group or individual:
Parent-Teacher Association We both want what's best for our children.
Child Welfare Association

We both want to protect our children from harm.

Local chapter of the National Education Association We both want children to learn--and being healthy, happy, and free of abuse is more conducive to children's learning.
Police department  We both want to reduce child abuse in our community.
Senator H. J. Bigpockets

We both want to fund programs that help reduce child abuse in our community.

Local Social and Rehabilitative Services office

We both want to reduce child abuse in our community.

Interfaith Council

We both want what's best for the children and to strengthen our community's families.

Local Headstart office  We both want to reduce child abuse because we want children to have a better chance at success in life.
Area substance use programs We both want to reduce child abuse because it goes hand-in-hand with substance use.
Women's shelter

We both want to reduce child abuse because it goes hand-in-hand with domestic violence.

When Lauryn talks to representatives of each group, she will stress the specific issues the group and CARE have in common.

Avoid issues that aren't pertinent to your shared interests.

You may have to do a little fancy maneuvering to get some groups to adopt your mission and objectives, especially if your group or initiative is at all controversial. Some groups may not be willing to adopt all of your objectives, so you may have to try to get them to adopt only those that they agree with. For example, let's say you run a teen pregnancy prevention initiative, and your objectives include both running a peer counseling program that stresses abstinence and making condoms available in the schools. You could probably get the local faith community to help out with the peer counseling program, but you're probably wasting your breath if you're trying to get their assistance with the condoms! With each group that you want to involve, focus on the things that your program does that are in line with that group's mission, values, and beliefs.

Make specific proposals and offers.

Before you ask a group to adopt your mission or objectives, you should be prepared to answer the question, "We think your program is great, but what do you want us to do?" When you want groups to adopt your mission and objectives, you should have specific ideas about exactly how they can do so. For example, you can present them with a particular set of costs for a program that they can cover, or a service you'd like their staff to provide. You can set up some sort of exchange--e.g., They provide funds for one of your programs, and in exchange you allow them to use your building for occasional workshops and staff retreats.

Coming up with a proposal before approaching these groups can also eliminate unpleasantness later on down the line. Let them know what you want so that you both know what's expected of you. Spelling out exactly what you hope to gain from them may spare you from hearing things like, "Well, yeah, we said we'd help out with your teen literacy program, but we didn't expect to have to pay any money!"

Example: Proposals made by the Jackson Falls CARE Program

Lauryn Yamamoto, the director of CARE, wants to find other groups to adopt CARE 's mission and objectives. For now, she's focusing on trying to promote this particular objective:

  • To have at least 200 parents complete the CARE parenting skills seminar by October 1, 2000.

For this objective, she has decided to make the following proposals to these groups, asking that they each take a specified responsibility in becoming sponsors of the quarterly parenting skills/anger management seminars:

Jackson Falls Parent-Teacher Association

  • Lauryn proposes that the PTA pay for all printing and photocopying costs involved in seminar materials, including manuals, flyers, workbooks, and posters.

Jackson Falls Social and Rehabilitative Services office

  • Lauryn proposes that the SRS office provide personnel to assist with the seminars.

Interfaith Council of Greater Jackson Falls

  • Lauryn proposes that the Interfaith Council provide personnel to assist with the anger management program which is part of the seminars.

Jackson Falls Headstart office

  • Lauryn proposes that Headstart host the seminars in their building.

In Summary

When other groups take your mission and objectives to heart, everyone wins. You can gain powerful allies; the groups with which you work can partner with you to meet some of their own objectives (as in the case of the Jackson Falls CARE Program above), and the people you help can only benefit by having additional organizations on their side. Promoting the adoption of your initiative's mission and objectives can be a lot of work, but it can result in new and exciting opportunities for your initiative and the people you serve.

Print Resource

Flanagan, J. (1995). "How to ask for money." In Rothman, J., Erlich, J., &Tropman, J. Strategies of Community Intervention. Itasca, Illinois: F.E. Peacock Publishers, Inc. pp. 391-400.