A nonprofit mission statement is a short, inspiring paragraph that tells the world what your organization is about. It's not just a way to describe what you do; it's how you define your organization to yourself and others. So before writing your own mission statement, be sure to read through the resources below so that you understand what it's all about and how it can help make your organization even better!
What is a mission statement?
A mission statement is a short written declaration of the purpose of an organization. It's typically crafted as a sentence or two, but can be longer if necessary. The goal is to write something that is clear and concise, but also inspirational. A mission statement helps your nonprofit communicate its goals with clarity and passion.
A mission statement should explain why you exist as an organization, what makes you unique and what sets your approach apart from others in similar fields. It should also state who or what you're trying to help, how you intend to do so (your methods), why it's important for others to support your cause (your goals), and how they can help (what action steps they can take).
Define your audience.
Before you can create a nonprofit mission statement, it is important to define your audience. In other words, who are you trying to reach? Who do you want to help? You should also consider who will be serving that audience. This might be a specific person or group of people within your organization but could also include community members who aren't directly involved with your organization.
How does your organization create value?
Once you've identified the benefits of your organization, the next step is to decide how your organization provides value. A nonprofit's mission statement should include how it creates value for its members, its community, and the world at large. For example:
Our organization provides value by helping our members achieve their goals through networking opportunities and professional development classes.
Our organization provides value by making a positive impact on local communities through events such as cleanups or volunteer days at a nearby school.
Our organization provides value by educating people about important issues in society so that they can make informed decisions about their lives and actions within society as a whole (this may include providing educational materials to schools).
What are you passionate about doing?
A mission statement is the foundation of your nonprofit organization. It's what will guide you and your team in making decisions, so it's important that you start off with the right information before writing a mission statement.
So what are some questions to ask? What are some things to consider when trying to write a non-profit mission statement? Well, think about these questions:
What do I love to do?
What is my vision for the future?
What do I want to achieve?
What would be a great success for me in 5 years from now (or even just 1 year)?
What difference do you want to make in the world?
Now that you have a good idea of what your nonprofit organization is, it's time to start building the foundation for your mission statement.
First, consider what difference you want to make in the world and how you will know when that difference has been made. Think about it from a personal perspective: What do you want your life to look like? Do this for all people who could be impacted by your nonprofit (don't forget about yourself). Try not to think about what would be good for someone else—think about what would be good for them. This can help prevent some hateful rhetoric that has come out of the political arena recently.
For example, one person may dream of owning their own home while another person may dream of having an elaborate kitchen with lots of fancy gadgets they'll never use but want anyway because they're cool looking. Both are valid dreams/goals/desires/whatever…but neither one is wrong or right—these are just two different ways people see themselves living their lives!
Reflect on your values.
What are your values?
What is important to you, and what do you want to be known for?
What kind of organization do you want to work in?
A good mission statement has one main idea, but it also supports that idea with several sub-ideas. This can be a challenge if there are many things that matter most to you. If this happens, try narrowing down your values until they have been distilled into one main value or two important ones (two being better than one), then add those values into your mission statement as supporting ideas.
Write your mission draft.
Once you are sure of what you want to say, write it down. Often the best way to do this is by writing a draft and then throwing it away or deleting it. You will be able to look at your mission statement with fresh eyes and see if there are any areas that need work. You can also ask someone else for feedback on your mission statement so that they can help point out any mistakes or issues with the wording of your mission statement. The most important thing is making sure that the final product is something that YOU feel comfortable saying and living out every day as part of your life's purpose!
Keep it short and simple.
A good mission statement is short and simple. The ideal length for a nonprofit mission statement is between four and five sentences long. This is because if you write too much, it can seem like you're trying to say too much, which makes it more difficult to focus on the most important parts of your mission.
A nonprofit's mission should also use simple language—not overly complicated words that are hard for people to understand. Use active voice instead of passive voice (for example: "We will provide education" instead of "Education will be provided"). It's fine if you want to use complex words occasionally in your writing when they add value, but make sure they're appropriate given the context and purpose of your writing before doing so!
As you write your mission statement, avoid jargon. Jargon is the use of words or phrases that are specialized to a particular field and therefore unintelligible to those outside it. This can make for a really important document if you're writing about something like investment banking or tax law, but for most people it won't be helpful at all.
Nonprofit organizations should be able to communicate their goals and message with clarity so that people who are interested in working with them know what they're looking for when they read your mission statement.
Check out other nonprofit mission statements for inspiration.
If you’re struggling to come up with a mission statement, it might help to look at other nonprofit organizations. You can use their mission statements as inspiration, or even steal parts of them and combine them into your own. While this isn’t exactly ethical, it is an effective way to get the job done!
Here are some ideas on where you might find inspiration:
Look at other nonprofits that are similar to yours. If all else fails, try searching online for “nonprofits in your city” and see what they have on their websites. Or try looking up a local government agency like the Chamber of Commerce or Small Business Administration office; they often host events where local businesses will share information about themselves and why they exist in the community.
Look at other nonprofits that are not similar to yours (and even those who may be doing things differently than what you want). This can give you new perspectives on how others view their missions—and maybe even spark some ideas for yourself!
Writing an inspiring mission statement can be done with the right tools, guidance, and the help of the people who know you best.
The mission statement is an important document that should be written with care. It's a reflection of your organization, and it should accurately reflect the values, goals, and beliefs of your organization
Start by gathering input from the people who know you best: staff members and volunteers. You'll need to get everyone on board before moving forward with writing a mission statement—so get them involved early! Once you've gathered input from everyone in your organization, identify three main things:
The most important thing about this community (or this population)
What do we want to achieve as an organization?
Take all the different ideas provided by your staff and volunteers, condense them down into one sentence or paragraph that best captures what makes this community special; what its heart is; why it exists in the world; etc., then revise again until everyone agrees on it being perfect!
We hope this guide has helped you to create your own nonprofit mission statement and get inspired by what others have done. If you’re still struggling, feel free to reach out with any questions or comments! We’d love to hear from you.