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SART Foundations: Mission Statements, New or Revisited

I’ve had the opportunity to do a lot of mission building with teams recently, so maybe this re-post is for you!

Through doing work with SARTs, one of the key things that helps orient the group and keep the work grounded is a mission statement. Sounds cheesy? You betcha. Is it effective? You betcha! Mission statements or clear guiding principles/goals help any group with the work they do, the decisions they need to make, or the outcomes they want to see. Recently, our organization went through the process of updating and revising our mission statement, and the process helped us to grow tremendously and give us a better sense of direction.

Mission statements or goals should be relatively short and clear. The mission statement tells you all the most essential information that an outside party needs to have a view of what you do and why. Your statement will contain the following information: (1) Who are you? (2) What do you do? (3) Who benefits? Let’s walk through what those mean, even if they seem pretty simple.

  1. Who are you? This is the easiest part of the mission statement. It is the name of your group or agency. If you don’t have a name, now is a fine time to unite under one banner. It should probably describe your service area and include the team type. Let’s just pretend that my SART is named after my cat, CleoCatra. So, the question is answered by the following:
    1. The CleoCatra County SART
  2. What do you do? This might be a little trickier to be able to say in short way, because the truth is that SARTs do a lot of work for their areas. You meet regularly. You build relationships. You challenge your agencies to improve their work. You write and implement protocol. You collect input from service providers and victim/survivors. There are so many things to choose from that it can feel overwhelming. Focus in on the big picture view of your work. Ask yourselves about the end goal you and your team are trying to achieve. Using my example, I might say this:
    1. Increases access to and improves the sexual assault response
  3. Who Benefits? This question is asking for whom are you doing the work. A mission statement will tell people what you are seeking to do and who will be better because of your existence. This helps to justify and clarify the work you do for when people go off track. Knowing the people you aim to serve will help keep your team centered. You will have the power to ask, “For whom do we do this work?” which will help steer people back on course. Keep this part focused on your main population, because many people will probably benefit from your work. So, my example might look like:
    1. Sexual assault victim/survivors in our county

When we put my example all together, it would read like this:

The CleoCatra County SART increases access to and improve the sexual assault response for sexual assault victim/survivors in our county.

Even that has some repeated phrasing. We could shorten it to look like this:

The CleoCatra County SART increases access to and improves the sexual assault response for victim/survivors.

This mission statement tells people who we are, what we do, and who benefits as a result. It provides a clear roadmap for our work and will serve as our touch point moving forward.

Now it’s your turn. Does your team have a mission statement? Do they need one? Do you think mission statements are silly? Leave your thoughts, questions, or stories in the comments!