Mission. Vision. Strategy. Goals. Objective. Purpose.  The management “science” of strategic planning tosses these words about like ingredients in a chopped salad.  DIfferentiating the terms can be confusing but together they describe what you do, why you do it and how you are going to get it done.

Although it is more art than science, the exercise of sitting down to intentionally clarify what exactly it is that you want to achieve and exactly how you hope to do it is a worthwhile exercise.  Both for-profit businesses and non-for-profit organizations benefit, as knowing what you are about gives focus and provides a rubric for making resource decisions.  It also defines success.  How do you celebrate “mission accomplished” if you don’t know what your mission is?

This month, we will be looking at local businesses with clear missions, focussing on our nonprofits.  We believe nonprofits are businesses too, as they have some of the same revenue, expense, resource and marketing issues but a different corporate structure.  And, instead of producing an adequate return on investment to its providers of financial capital like a for-profit business, a nonprofit business is expected convert financial capital from fundraising and grants to deliver on its defined mission or purpose.

Our business association welcomes nonprofit leaders who will benefit from our professional development opportunities and access to other business people.  Connections can result in a new board member, a volunteer, a donation or enhanced brand within the community.  Spreading the good word about the social services your nonprofit organization provides is no different than talking about a product you might be selling if you were in retail or sales.  We provide a platform from which to grow your (nonprofit) business.

The Chamber offers special membership benefits for nonprofits, at a twenty-five percent discount to our regular membership fee.  This includes promotional opportunities, information and access.  Because the Chamber itself is a member-based nonprofit organization, we ask that local agencies and nonprofit organizations be members to use our services. While we respect the important work of all community organizations, our own mission statement calls for us to focus our resources and attention on members.

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Cathy Yen

Cathy Yen is the Executive Director of the Oak Park River Forest Chamber of Commerce.  She has lived in Oak Park for 21 years and done business locally, first as a retailer and then as a small business...