Open Letter to Board Members

Hey, I get it. You’re a dedicated board member and you are invested all the way from your hair follicles to your bunions in your nonprofit organization’s mission. You want everyone to know how awesome your nonprofit is. For whatever reason, what comes naturally is to emblazon your mission statement everywhere you can: annual reports, brochures and, in a streak of misinformed enthusiasm, your website homepage.

Oh, no. No, no. You are sorely mistaken there. Your mission statement does not belong on your homepage. I would argue that thing shouldn’t be within throwing distance of your website. Your site is not a place where you need to talk about how you’re meeting your organizational vision. In fact, the words “vision,” “mission statement” and “statement of purpose” have no business anywhere on your website.

Why? Because nobody cares. I’m not trying to be mean here, there’s just no other way to say it. I guarantee the people you’re serving care more about what you’re doing for them than looking at your gobbledygook mission statement.

I’ll tell you now that no pregnant teen, no neglected pet, no activist, congregant, health worker, educator, mentor, counselor or any other type online audience member visiting a nonprofit’s website ever needs to know the mission statement. Not one!

I’m writing to you directly, dear board member, because you’re the unseen reverser of many a good decision about website homepages. I know this because in my work at a web development firm, I lead our clients through a painstaking process of identifying the most important information for the homepage. We look for something that will keep them there longer than 10 seconds. Too often a board member steps in during final approval to insist on the mission statement going front and center. So back we step.

Listen, I’m not a board member. I don’t know what goes on behind doors when choosing a mission statement. It could be a mixed martial arts battle over which words to choose (“innovation” or “enrich”? “Potential” or “realize”?). You might have bloody lips and bruises that prove your mix of bizpeak is the best. Respect, man. That’s got to be tough.

Still, though. It doesn’t change that no one cares.

So for pity’s sake, pretty please stop insisting your mission statement appears anywhere on your website homepage.

Respectfully yours,

Frustrated web developers everywhere

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