Mission creep, or deviation from an organization’s stated mission, is a problem that affects nonprofit visual arts organizations at the most basic level. However, the sensitive nature of mission misalignment means that it is difficult to conduct research on the causes of mission creep. Anecdotal evidence suggests that organizational planning that focuses on an organization’s impact within its community is more likely to result in programming that successfully meets its mission and serves its stakeholders, thus avoiding mission creep. This strategy, adaptive impact planning, prepares an organization to make decisions that are in line with their missions and their founding intent.

The American Alliance of Museums should more actively encourage planning, in order to create a positive association with conversations about mission, and should seek out quantitative data regarding the relationship between planning and mission success in order to determine what has helped organizations like The Hammer Museum in Los Angeles to successfully navigate mission management while others have failed to remain faithful to their mission statements.

UPDATE: this paper passed its defense! Email bridgetwoodbury@gmail.com if you’d like to read it.