When Harvard University was founded in 1636, its mission was that its students "be plainly instructed and consider well that the main end of your life and studies is to know God and Jesus Christ."
The YMCA began as "a refuge of Bible study and prayer for young men seeking escape from the hazards of life on the streets."
Neither organization still intimately affiliates with its once-overt religious identity. Indeed, they are two out of dozens of colleges and non-profits that once manifested Christian ideals and now posses a reputation, values and processes which are staunchly secular.
That is the question that Peter Greer and Chris Horst, both of the microfinance non-profit Hope International, attempt to answer in the recently released Mission Drift: The Unspoken Crises Facing Leaders, Charities and Churches.
"The more we researched, the more we realized that it's not like one major event. There's not one major decision [that takes the organization off its Christian mission,]" said Greer, who is the CEO and President of the Lancaster, Pa. based organization. "It's all these really small decisions and you don't really see the impact until you take a step back and seem the difference that time allows and perspective."