Knowledge Bank

Knowledge Bank

ReidSachs invites questions and or requests for comments on topics of importance to you.

First of all, that’s great news.  Email is a useful but tricky communication tool.  So a few general rules about email communication.

  1. Keep it brief. Use bullets, numbering or other spacing to write your message.  No one wants to open an email and see long paragraphs.   These are especially difficult to read on a hand-held device.
  2. Be mindful of your choice of words and tone.  Email is easily misinterpreted because one can neither hear nor see the person.   Use short sentences.  If you are unsure about how it sounds, read it out loud.  Reading out loud is good for any writing you do.  You’ll be amazed what you notice when you do.

Regarding the inquiry you received, there is nothing wrong with saying that you were delighted to hear from the person and that you look forward to further discussions or meeting with them.  After all, you are delighted.   Also:

  1. Ask what prompted their interest?  This information will help you prepare for the follow-up conversations.   It is also useful information for your own brand or name recognition.
  2. If you have some other information to share in an attachment, even if you are not sure if that is what was requested, you can do this.  Be sure you are not giving away too much early on.  You don’t want the person to think they can get everything they need without meeting you.
  3. Propose a specific plan for follow-up:  For example, I will call your office tomorrow week to schedule a time for a longer conversation.  Or: Do you have time for a call/chat on  enter specific date here?   The only problem with asking a question is that again the ball is in the other person’s court.   They may or may not answer your question.  Whereas if you call the office, you are taking the lead — and you are showing your commitment, because you are doing what you said you would do.

Your question is one many struggle to answer.

First some perspective.  Investors are looking for opportunities to make money and, in the course of that, support initiatives that share their values.  But, it is their money that is on the line and it is only reasonable for them to know what they are getting for the money.

Funders from foundations or governmental organizations receive money from benefactors and governments.   They are custodians of this money.  Therefore, they must have concrete evidence that it was spent wisely.

Second, everything is measurable.  Your comment “everything doesn’t always boil down to numbers and measures:” is really saying that some things are difficult to measure accurately.

We can measure the temperature of the air very directly and accurately.  It is much harder to measure how much a person learned or how much a person’s quality of life improved.  These can only be assessed through measuring their behavior – for example their score on a test (for learning), or the number of months they are living in housing rather than on the street (for quality of life).

Just because it is difficult to measure something and the measurement may be inaccurate does not mean one should not try.  One can always revise measures based on the data that is collected.   Moreover, some unique problems require unique measures.   Your proposal may include piloting a new method to measure something as part of the project.   This new method could be useful to future grantees or to your funder.

Every business must have a reason for being.  Otherwise, why does it exist at all?  That reason for being is usually to fulfill a need.  That statement sounds simpler than it really is.  Consider this: When a person wants to hang a picture on a wall, he does not need a hammer and a nail.  He needs a hole.  The hammer and the nail are one way to make that hole.

So, jumping ahead a bit, when you are thinking about the mission of your business and how to write a mission statement, start by asking yourself, “What need am I serving?”

As for why you need a mission statement at all, there are external and internal reasons.  Externally, the statement tells the world who you are.   There may be many businesses or organizations who do similar things to your own business.   But, what do you do that is unique?   That is your mission.

The mission statement is also important internally.  It serves to keep everyone in the business focused on the same overall goal – to fulfill the mission.

In terms of writing a mission statement, it should be brief and use simple language.

  • Ask yourself what need you are fulfilling,
  • Think about the key activities of your business and the ways in which you do those activities. How can you describe them?
  • Look at mission statements of other companies, not just ones similar to yours.
  • Write a draft and get comments from those whose opinion you value.
  • Don’t expect to get it right the first time.
  • And don’t be afraid to change it as your circumstances change.

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