"To transform the lives of people in our community through affordable education programs and vibrant performances that generate a mutual love of music shared and enjoyed by performers, students, and audiences alike."
In this example of a new organization's mission statement created for this course, it is interesting to point out the choice of the word "transform." A safer word choice would be "improve" or even "enrich." But those words don't make you sit up a little taller in your chair, do they?
I appreciate the boldness of the word choice. However, in 2015, sophisticated funders are very likely to expect you to provide evidence that the organization's mission is being accomplished. If you claim to be about transforming lives, you'll be asked to measure and document that transformation. What does transforming a life look like? How do show evidence of transformation? This is where evaluation enters the picture: from the very beginning, it is essential to figure out if you will be able to measure the outcomes of your efforts. (More about this in an upcoming post about logic models.)
Additionally, I want to draw attention to the inclusion of the musicians themselves among the intended beneficiaries mentioned in the mission of this organization. "Performers, students, and audiences alike" resonates with me because of my long association with Community MusicWorks, and the mission that founder Sebastian Ruth codified in 1999: "To create a cohesive urban community through music education and performance that transforms the lives of children, families, and musicians."
As Sebastian described it, "the most surprising piece... of our mission statement for many is the fact that our work is intended to be transformative for musicians as well. This is not the traditional approach to “outreach,” in which students are transported out of their neighborhoods to view a new art form. This is about musicians working as part of a community, making their art form relevant and interesting to their fellow community members. And in this process of translation, the musicians themselves (and their music) are transformed and deepened by the interaction with the community."
So we've got a commitment to transforming the lives of children, families, and the people doing the work of the organization. That's a beautiful idea, and it feels so appropriate when the goal is to build a community. It is important to recognize that the musicians are certainly members of that community.
With regard to the new organization's mission statement, we agreed that sitting with the word "transform" for a while makes sense. Transformation is an ambitious goal not to be taken on casually, but doesn't it sound wonderful, conjuring up images of engaged, empathic, dedicated musicians who are in it for the long haul?
Sharing student project documentation and, more recently, my own.