When is it Appropriate to Expand Your Organization’s Mission?
Questioning the Status Quo
It is important that a nonprofit organization regularly evaluate its mission if it wishes to achieve its goals. Likewise, it must be ready to modify its mission in order to continue to be successful in the future. My experience with this issue is first-hand.
Holy Cross High School was founded in 1955 as a single-gender all-boys school in Flushing, NY. I joined the board of the school in September 2014 and became board chairman in January 2017. A decline in school enrollment began in 2014, and continued through 2016. The school was not sure if this was a “one off situation or systemic”.
The First Step is Often the Hardest
The board commissioned an internal study to consider its options. There were essentially two choices. It could remain single gender and promote itself as the only all-boys Catholic school in Queens, New York. A second option was to become a co-educational institution and offer the same quality experience to girls and boys.
After evaluating its options, the board made the unanimous decision in May 2017 to expand its mission and become a co-educational institution.
Not surprisingly, this was a huge undertaking, with many risks. Additionally, not all stakeholders were in favor of the move. The ability to attract enough female students was one of the biggest concerns. There were already single gender all-girls and co-ed schools in the area. The physical plant and facilities would also require significant upgrades
All Hands on Deck
Thankfully, the administration, under the leadership of its president Mike Truesdell and principal Ed Burns, dove in. Staff and faculty were mobilized. Detailed plans were created and executed. Visits to other institutions were made. The community was informed and engaged.
Seventy girls entered Holy Cross High School for the first day of classes on September 10, 2018. Furthermore, an 18% increase among boys occurred. This was the first increase in male enrollment in over five years. Students, parents, alumni, administration, faculty and staff are excited about the newly expanded mission of the institution.
Mission Expansion leads to Success
The Holy Cross experience demonstrates the importance of regularly evaluating an organization’s mission and to change when circumstances dictate. Ask yourself these questions. Is your mission statement aligned with your organization’s strategic plan? Does your strategic plan reflect the dynamics of the market and environment in which you operate? If the answer is not an affirmative “yes” to either of these questions, then perhaps it is time to evaluate your mission and strategic plan.
Our company often helps organizations answer these questions in an impartial manner. Please contact us if you wish to discuss this topic further.