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Set Up for Success: Mission Driven Organisations

Josh Senior
1 April 2022
Set Up for Success: Mission Driven Organisations


Every arts organisation managed the covid storm in their own way - for better or for worse. In our most recent Arts Professional editorial, we looked at how Farnham Maltings’ dedication to their mission helped them through these last two and half years. Moreover, this commitment helped them raise over £70,000 through Ticketsolve right when they needed it most. 

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I’ll bet your organisation has a mission statement already. Missions help focus you and your teams; they give you your reason for being. But there is a difference between having a mission and being truly mission driven.


Being mission driven means that your mission is central to everything you do and how you operate. It helps you question and understand your strategies, informs your decisions and guides your teams. 


Mission-driven organisations have strong cultures, resilient teams, and focused decision-making capabilities. Arts organisations are by their very nature purpose driven and mission driven. They have a deep reason for being. A mission is what the organisation is trying to accomplish and the purpose is the why. 


Organisations that clearly define their purpose and mission, and activate values to support them, are well positioned for long-term success in a rapidly changing world. These purpose- and mission-driven organisations are clear about why they exist and how they plan to achieve their objectives. They’re well-equipped to navigate change, disruption and rising expectations from employees, customers, partners and their communities. They also have a good understanding of how to efficiently use their resources by analysing the data at their disposal. True mission success is nearly impossible to measure as the most meaningful results of arts organisations are intangible. You can use data to help you stay updated with how your mission impacts the lives of your audiences. 


What is critical here is how to put this into practice. Farnham Maltings is a great example of how being mission driven can really push success. 


What it Means to be Mission Driven at Farnham Maltings


For Farnham Maltings, being purpose driven and mission driven helped them weather the pandemic, and see them succeed long into the future. Their mission? 

“we are committed to improving the quality of people’s lives across all the communities we work with”


This simple but clear and effective “why” gives every action, plan and programming at Farnham a reason for being and creates a space where everyone is welcome. Patrons visit Farnham from diverse backgrounds to participate in workshops, as audience members or as exhibitors in one of Farnham’s craft festivals. 


That of course was before March 2020. When the pandemic hit, Farnham, like arts organisations around the world, became unmoored. But Farnham had a robust lifeboat to turn to - their stated mission. Their dedication to their mission and their deeper understanding of their community allowed them to refocus quickly. They understood that as a hub in the community and with many vulnerable and isolated people needing help, their mission -  to help make people's lives better - was one they could still take action. 


“. . .improving the quality of people’s lives across all the communities we work with”


With this mission front and centre in their minds, Farnham pivoted from an arts and culture programme to offering community services that would positively impact their communities. They offered:


  • Shopping and delivery for the elderly
  • Setting up a share shop where people could share items
  • Pharmacy delivery service for the homebound


But as a small team, they knew they needed help. Very quickly they tapped into over 500 community volunteers to help them energise their mission. This really speaks volumes of the relationship that Farnham has built with its community over the years. 


In addition to direct assistance, Farnham worked with the town council to create The Coronavirus Support Fund. In two short days the fund raised £50,000, which was used to purchase essential items (up to £300) for vulnerable people. The fund has given over 200 awards with items including children's clothing, washing machines, school uniforms etc. 


The actions Farnham took were certainly praiseworthy, but what is even more interesting is how quickly they adapted to the challenges they faced because they stayed focused on their true mission. In one way the pandemic showed Farnham who they are and what they really do in the community. This shift was critical in their understanding of their role and value within the community. Moreover, this also showed the community how important Farnham is to them.

The Community Helps Farnham

Like many organisations, the pandemic took a financial toll on Farnham. Even after availing of every support available, Farnham was at risk of having to cut loose valued programming and workshops due to lack of funds.


Enter the Spring Forward fundraising campaign. This fundraising campaign was devised by the team to ensure their programming and workshops would remain despite the financial hardships that covid wrought. While the team initially thought £20,000 was a fair and achievable goal, they quickly realised that this sum just wouldn’t let them achieve their stated mission. The team worried that patrons wouldn’t donate since it wasn’t aimed at a physical/capital project. 


When the team were mapping out the campaign at the start, there were numerous discussions about which tools would be best to help them achieve their goal amount. Perhaps Just Giving had the best reach or Crowd Funding would allow them to push for higher amounts? After consulting with a very experienced fundraiser the team at Farnham decided to keep it simple and use Ticketsolve.


Donors understood the value of Farnham Maltings and with the easy donation platform Farnham raised £70,000  - securing their future in the community - quite an achievement. 


How to Be Mission Driven and Avoid Mission Drift


As Farnham has shown, having a clearly stated mission and purpose is one thing, but coming back to it time and time again is what helps keep you driving forward and helps you to adapt and thrive. 


It is certainly worth reviewing your mission and ensuring that it is fit to purpose not just for the present, but also the future. Thankfully, we are sailing past covid restrictions and getting back to it; no doubt things are busy. With everything moving so quickly, it is essential to take a look at your organisation and see where you are now. Has your organisation suffered from mission drift? Are you still on track? Does that mission need a little rework? 


Mission drift happens slowly, one decision at a time. This can threaten an organisation’s growth and ultimate purpose. Take for example Harvard University - did you know their mission was to "prepare ministers of upright character"?


Now I’ll grant you at the time of the writing of that mission (1636 to be exact) until today means of course there has been mission drift - but you get the point. Your organisation might have changed. Now’s a good time to see if your mission still makes sense. And if your mission is still on point (that is great if it is), take a look at how you’re measuring that mission. Data is your friend here and can help you see if you are sticking to your mission and if not, why not and how to fix it. 


Your mission should enlighten, motivate, remind and stimulate your people, it needs to be memorable, concise, clear and well written.


  • Be specific
  • Be measured
  • Be simple
  • Be authentic
  • Be clear
  • Be human

Measure Your Success

Measuring how successfully you are carrying out your mission is also vital in ensuring a win. Your objective will guide the resources you'll need (time, volunteers, funding, and revenue generated), and your data will help you assess the impact of your efforts. This information then feeds back into the rationale for why you're doing what you're doing, motivating your employees, volunteers, funders, and audience segments to engage meaningfully with your organisation.

Ticketsolve Data Driven mission cycle

At Ticketsolve, we are taking this opportunity to check in with our mission too. Over the last two years we shifted focus to providing support to our customers and the wider arts community though things that were desperately needed like streaming, ticket exchange, academy in order to navigate the pandemic. 

Now, staying true to our mission of supporting and helping the arts, culture and heritage sector through innovative technology, smart and forward thinking thought leadership and constant collaboration we are working on a three-year project to develop industry-wide sustainable practices. 

We'll be focused on a huge knowledge-exchange endeavour with the goal of sharing fresh learnings for the sector. We are looking to create and inspire transformative change for arts, culture and heritage organisations through innovation. We are and will be actively working with your peers, members of the Ticketsolve Community, policymakers, and other industry agents. 

Your involvement is key to creating these changes. Throughout the process, we’ll be building a network, and this is your invitation. Stay in touch and keep updated. 

Check out the article on Arts Professional here:

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