What Is Your Conference ROM?

You Got To Have A Mission

You’ve probably heard of ROI-return on investment.

You may have heard of ROE-return on equity (not return on event). Or you may have heard of ROA-return on assets. Successful businesses depend upon ROI, ROE and ROA.

So have you heard of ROM-return on mission? It’s critical to moving the mission of your organization forward. So what is your conference’s return on mission?

Defining ROM

Nonprofit technology consultant Andrew Urban says

Return On Mission (ROM) is the ability to look beyond the standard ROI. It’s the ability to make sure that your investments have the maximum impact on the mission itself. Not just the bottom line.

Think of ROM as investments that should move the mission of your organization and conference forward in very real and tangible ways. It’s putting mission before margin and having faith that margin will follow.

So how are your investments in your conference moving the mission of your organization forward?

Real Conference ROM Goes Beyond Attendee Satisfaction

Real ROM goes beyond conference attendee satisfaction surveys.

It’s about the effectiveness of the conference. It’s about how the conference transforms paying attendees’ professional and personal lives. It’s about what attendees take back to their job. It’s about changing attendees’ attitudes, behaviors and skills.

If your organization is just focused on getting great attendee scores, then you’re organization is nothing but a customer survey score whore says customer-centric leader and author Jeanie Bliss.

Authentic conference ROM is a real commitment to the paying attendee’s future. It’s about using surveys to improve the event so that the conference mission aligns with the organization’s overall mission.

Conference ROM is about helping your conference grow by improving your paying attendees’ lives.

The Mission Of Your Conference

So what is the real mission of your annual conference?

Not sure?

Perhaps these questions will help:

  • What is your conference’s purpose?
  • Who is your target market for your conference?
  • What outcomes does your target market expect from your event?
  • What is the future you are trying to create for your conference’s paying attendees?
  • Do you believe that your conference is maximizing its mission impact?
  • What kind of impact does your conference have on paying attendees, your community and your profession?
  • How does your conference transform attendee’s attitudes, behaviors and skills? How do you know?

Creating A Shared Conference Mission

Why does your conference need a mission statement?

You want to help everyone that works on planning your conference understand what your event stands for. You want to help them do work that matters. And to bring your conference team together.

By itself, a conference mission statement is just words on page. It’s just a written statement.

However, if your conference team and volunteers support that mission, then you can be a powerful force. When it’s supported by an entire team, you can change the world.

Ultimately, creating a shared conference mission is about deciding what your conference stands for, what outcomes you expect, doing conference planning work that matters and brining your team together.

Create your conference mission by addressing the following:

  1. Our Cause: Who? (Target Market), What? Why?
  2. Our Actions: What we do at the conference to encourage our attended to…
  3. Our Impact: What changes for the better do we expect?

Then create surveys that matter. Measure if any real substantive change takes place from attending your event.

And measure your conference ROM!

Hat tips NonprofitHub.org for info on creating a shared mission and vision.

What can you do to help your organization focus on conference ROM? What do you do if your conference needs to reboot its mission statement?

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  1. Elling Hamso says:

    Jeff, thank you for drawing attention to the organisation’s mission as the focus of everything the organisation does, including its meetings. I completely agree with you that meetings should be measured in terms of their contribution to achieving the mission.

    But please don’t add to the confusion by creating another RO-wannabe. ‘Return On’ means putting an asset to work (e.g. by investing time and money in a meeting) and getting more back than what you put in (hopefully), this is the Return. The mission is not an asset that you invest, it is simply a statement of the reason why the organisation exists, the ultimate goal for the organisation to reach. Return On Mission is therefore a meaningless statement, by definition an nonsense, please don’t mention it again. And keep up the good work.

    1. Jeff Hurt says:


      Thanks for reading and adding your opinion.

      I used Andrew Urban’s definition of Return On Mission and that term has been around for at least six years. It is not a new RO-wannabe as you stated. By the way, Urban actually has a financial formula for ROM in his book that measures both the financials and mission based aspects of a decision.

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