I recently read an article about mission drifting in companies. Although written for the corporate world, it was definitely some food for thought. This article made me reflect on LETCEE and the work we are doing. So I thought I would share some of my thoughts with you, our village.
As a NPO, funding opportunities or desperation might pull you ever so slightly away from your mission. You might adapt your activities to match what funders are looking for, or consider unrelated areas of service when needs arise.
It is important for the Board and Leaders to step in or guide when the organisation is no longer in alignment with the mission and values. We don’t want to be ten years down the line, unable to recognise what we’ve become.
These mission drifts aren’t always in a negative sense. LETCEE has been working in some of the most deprived communities in South Africa for 24 years. Often we see a gap in service delivery or drug-addicted teens. We see mistreated animals or gogos in broken wheelchairs. These are noble causes, and deserve assistance. But although these are tough decisions to make, we have to compare the problem to our mission. If it doesn’t align, we don’t intervene.
This does not, however, mean turning a blind eye. We refer to the appropriate organisations and advocate for the solving of these problems. It simply means we realise that LETCEE can’t solve all the problems; and by spending time, energy and money on unrelated things, we take away from our actual focus: the child.
We are not ignorant either. We realise that children live, develop and learn in communities. And without improving the environment around the child, our direct ECD services will have little success. So yes, we do run self-help groups, parenting courses and community vegetable gardens. We do set up tanks for safe drinking water. Why? Because of our focus: The child! Without food security, safe drinking water and involved, caring parents, our children will not grow up in nurturing environments. And our ECD services will have little to no long-term impact.
LETCEE’s vision is to see every child develop and grow in a caring community. Sometimes this means aiding the child’s development and other times it means building up that strong, caring community. Both are essential to achieve long-term success.
Now a challenge for you: Be part of our village. Speak up when you think we are drifting from our mission and values. Help us to remain child-centred and continue with the work we are doing for another 25 years! Remember, it takes a village to raise a child.
Written by Annika Hayward