One of the most basic elements of effective community engagement is commitment to community well-being at the mission level. Without this, virtually all other efforts will be marginal at best or counter-productive at worst. The nature of this commitment can be expressed in whatever way is most authentic to the organization and its communities. The generic template I sometimes suggest can be found here. It’s so general, it’s more of a sentiment than an actual statement to emulate.
In December I had the opportunity to attend a production of the Strawberry Theatre Workshop in Seattle. In the program I found a mission statement that was remarkable for its awareness of and commitment to the communities in which it operates. (The complete statement can be found here.) It noted the connection between what happened on stage and subsequent conversations “at coffee shops, bus stops, classrooms, and play fields.” It held that the company’s ensemble included not only the administrative and artistic staff but also the audience and the neighborhood, seeing itself as one part of something much larger. Finally, it identified itself as wanting to be a “good neighbor” saying that meant it needed to be “a relevant neighbor, a responsible neighbor, and a vocal neighbor.
No mission statement should be the template for another organization (that’s very nearly a truism for us in the nonprofit world), but being able to see commitment to engagement in the mission is a pre-requisite for effectiveness. Is it obvious in yours?