In the nonprofit world we talk, what seems sometimes endlessly, about our mission and vision statements. Who hasn’t been in a meeting where the entire hour was filled with disagreements over this word or that word and in the end you still didn’t have a finalized product? It can be overwhelming, stressful and emotional to create these statements. It doesn’t have to be! We want to help make it a better process for you, your organization and all those involved.
Before we move into tips… let’s talk about definitions.
According to Oxford Dictionary, a mission statement is a formal summary of the aims and values of a company, organization, or individual.
A strong mission statement:
- Answers the questions “What you do + who/what you do this for”
- Is clear and easy to understand to anyone inside or outside the organization
It is what you want to accomplish for who and how.
A great example of a mission statement is from the Girl Scouts of America.
Girl Scouting builds girls of courage, confidence, and character,
who make the world a better place.
The Girl Scouts answer all the strong missing statement questions. What they do: builds girls of courage, confidence and character. Who they do it for: girls, and to make the world a better place. It is also clear and easy to understand for anyone.
Not too hard, right?
Okay so we have the definition of the mission statement, now let’s move onto the vision statement.
A vision statement is typically a broader statement or idea that your nonprofit organization is striving for. It should read like the headline of a news article…pull you in while being short and concise.
The vision statement is the ideal world that will exist if your mission is completed.
A great example of a mission statement is from the Alzheimer’s Association.
A world without Alzheimer’s disease.
Would this make a good headline? Is it short, clear and easy to understand by those inside and outside of the organization?
Yes! It definitely is.
Okay, so you have the definitions… Now what? How do you take this information and put it into action with your organization?
Well the starting point is as easy as looking at these definitions in comparison to your current mission or vision statement, if you have one, then you can begin adjusting from there.
However, if you don’t have either of these statements, let’s get into what your next steps might be.
Create them as a team.
Whether it’s your board of directors or a small group starting your organization, build these foundational pieces together. Gaining viewpoints from multiple people will allow the organization to create a mission and vision statement that best encompasses what the organization truly stands for and ensure it is understandable to the greater community.
Unsure of how to facilitate this kind of meeting? Download our two favorite Activities to Facilitate Creating your Organization’s Mission and Vision Statement.
Make it a living statement.
Just because your organization creates a mission and vision statement now, doesn’t mean it can’t be changed later. As your organization grows, as you learn more about what you stand for and as changes come, you want to allow your mission and vision statements to reflect those changes.
This is especially important for those of you who have a current mission and/or vision statement. It’s alright to review it, in fact, it’s GOOD to review it! If you haven’t reviewed it in several years, it’s time. Make sure it is still in line with your organizational goals and values.
Learn it. Know it. Repeat it.
Now that you’ve written the best mission and vision statement for your organization, make sure everyone knows it. No, you don’t have to be that annoying kid on the playground who is constantly talking about themselves… but you should know your mission and vision statements. And so should your board members and other members of your organization. Be intentional about using them on all written communications including emails, agendas, and business cards. Ensure that board members and volunteers acknowledge their involvement in the nonprofit in their other pursuits whether as a school board representative, Rotary Club member or church leader with others outside the organization. Provide them with materials with the mission and vision statements.
Then it leaks out into the community and THAT is how real change begins.
If you’d rather have an outside set of eyes to help in this process, reach out to our nonprofit consulting agency! We have years of experience with helping nonprofit organizations build strong brands, including their mission and vision statements. Get in touch with KM Clark Consulting Group, and we’ll set up a call to see how we can best help.
Don’t forget to download our favorite activities to help facilitate creating your mission and vision statement!.