Predicting Mission Alignment and Preventing Mission Drift: Do Revenue Sources Matter?

Ji Ma, Elise Jing, Jun Han


Activities of nonprofit organizations do not always align with their missions, a managerial problem termed as “mission drift.” Mission drift is difficult to operationalize and quantify; thus, as a critical issue, only a few conceptual pieces or empirical case studies have explored this topic. This paper develops innovative measures to operationalize “mission alignment” using data science methodology, and examines the impact of revenue sources on mission alignment. By using the cosine similarity of text between a mission statement and program description, four measures of mission alignment are devised: the sum cosine similarity, average cosine similarity, weighted sum cosine similarity, and weighted average cosine similarity. Text analysis indicates that a majority of the programs evidence educational purposes, and for-profit business plays an important role in foundations’ projects and funding. The regression analysis shows that personal donation and service revenue can increase mission alignment,while organizational donation and membership dues decrease mission alignment.


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