Ep 187: Don’t Be a Mission Creep!

by Joan Garry

Mission creep is a big problem for many nonprofits. Here’s some practical advice on how to prevent it.


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For a decade, I ran an organization that works to ensure that the stories of LGBTQ lives are told fairly and accurately in the media.

Early in my tenure I decided to start a new program that existed as a standalone organization. Its mission was to offer training to employees of media-centric companies to help them navigate diversity in the workplace, specifically around LGBTQ issues.

You know what this made me? A “Mission Creep”!

And you know what? It was a mistake that took our eyes off the ball. Honestly, it was a mistake for a whole bunch of reasons. I want you to learn from my mistakes.

In this episode, I define this phrase “mission creep,” identify its symptoms and side effects, and give you some practical advice on how to prevent it.


  • 0:00 – Open for Joan’s solo episode on mission creep
  • 1:52 – Music Intro (Solo)
  • 2:41 – What is mission creep?
  • 4:16 – Forms of mission creep
  • 6:10 – What causes mission creep?
  • 6:48 – #1 cause for mission creep – a lack of clarity of purpose
  • 8:41 – #2 – Ego
  • 9:50 – #3 – Bright Shiny Object Syndrome
  • 10:45 – #4 the work is being done poorly by a colleague organization
  • 11:33 – #5 organizations follow the money
  • 12:52 – Preventative measures
  • 13:19 – #1 antidote – sit all board members down and ask them to describe the organization’s core mission
  • 15:03 – #2 antidote – access your current programs
  • 16:18 – #3 antidote – try to rewrite your mission statement with your staff
  • 17:25 – #4 antidote – develop some guiding principles
  • 19:06 – #5 antidote – create messaging for the funder who wants to fund what doesn’t fit


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