Perhaps you are a nonprofit that is just getting started, or you are a more matured nonprofit that is looking to better convey your purpose. Your organization’s mission sets the foundation for your work, goals, and relationship with the community, and having the rightly worded statement is key to your nonprofit’s success.
What does a mission statement do?
In one effective sentence, a mission statement explains your nonprofit’s goals and the importance of the continued existence of your organization.
A vision statement supplements the mission statement, conveying the type of world your nonprofit seeks to bring into fruition.
In addition to setting the foundation for your nonprofit’s objectives and programs, mission statements have several other important functions, including:
- Inspiring and unifying your staff and volunteers
- Focusing the efforts of your organization’s leaders
- Helping to define your goals and measure your impact
- Generating support from donors and the community
- Serving as PR to the outside world, legitimizing the importance of your organization
Your mission statement is the most important message for your organization. So how should you craft it? Marc Koenig of Nonprofit Hub suggests that there are three essential parts to your mission:
- The cause or who you serve
- The actions you take or what you do
- The impact you make
Once you have determined those elements, when writing your statement, keep the following tips in mind:
1. Keep it short and sweet.
Your statement should simple, clear, and memorable. It should be easy to say out loud, and ideally, it could be repeated from memory. You don’t need to go into any grand details. A mission statement is just a snapshot of your organization that will compel others to find out more.
2. Use simple, effective language.
Don’t use any industry-specific jargon. Your statement will be viewed by the greater community. Someone who doesn’t know anything about your organization should be able to clearly understand what your organization is about.
3. Convey an explicit action and end goal.
Your statement should be specific enough to show that your nonprofit offers something unique that is worth fighting for (you shouldn’t say that you are “saving the world”). Your statement should include a particular action that describes what your organization is doing to achieve its goal.
Need inspiration? TopNonprofits has a great list of clear, memorable, and concise mission statements from 50 nonprofits around the world. Here are a few of our favorites:
Heifer International’s mission is to work with communities to end world hunger and poverty and to care for the Earth.
Susan G Komen for the Cure
Save lives by meeting the most critical needs in our communities and investing in breakthrough research to prevent and cure breast cancer.
The Humane Society
Celebrating Animals, Confronting Cruelty.
We grant the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions to enrich the human experience with hope, strength and joy.
The mission of NPR is to work in partnership with Member Stations to create a more informed public — one challenged and invigorated by a deeper understanding and appreciation of events, ideas and cultures.
How did you construct your nonprofit’s mission statement? Have any tips for fellow organizations? Please share them in the comments!