How to Write a Nonprofit Mission Statement

Writing a powerful nonprofit mission statement is crucial but challenging. You want your nonprofit’s mission statement to clearly identify your beneficiaries, express how you help them, and inform your reader what your nonprofit hopes to accomplish with its efforts. A strong mission statement conveys what drives your nonprofit to action and demonstrates commitment. Even better is a mission statement that suggests your organization is better at addressing your cause than competing nonprofits.

Write a mission statement that’s only one or two sentences long, but broad-reaching enough to appeal to the interests of a diverse audience. Advocates, prospective donors, volunteers, board members and beneficiaries all need to connect in some way with your mission statement. Reaching each of these groups is key because each is an integral part of your organization.

Group Think

Whittling the entirety of your organization’s purpose down to a couple of sentences may overwhelm you, but resist the urge to pound out your nonprofit’s mission statement solo or with limited input. Now is not the time to restrict your nonprofit’s brainpower. With a limited viewpoint you risk a narrow vision, which could polarize some in your audience.

Instead, take the time to gather the perspectives of a variety of people involved with your organization. In addition to board and staff members, seek input from volunteers and especially beneficiaries. Broaden your perspective by asking patrons how they perceive your nonprofit, and asking beneficiaries what services help them most.

Making the Cut

After assembling the results of your research, identify the material you’ll include in your mission statement. Distill the feedback from your nonprofit’s collective notes to tease out a firm, cohesive mission statement communicating the core of your goals and actions.

Then, start drafting. You don’t have to be a professional writer to come up with a knockout mission statement, but collaborating with a colleague with a writing background couldn’t hurt.

As you write, make sure you’re using your words efficiently. Brevity is crucial and the key to concise writing is editing. Don’t expect your first draft to be perfect (it never is) and edit with a heavy hand.

Mind Your Words

Since your nonprofit’s mission statement needs to be as pithy as humanly possible, every word must be chosen carefully.

Select descriptive words that relate directly to the people, locations and services related to your cause. For example, if your nonprofit prevents violence against women, include key phrases such as “protecting women and girls,” “assault,” “abuse prevention,” and “help for battered women.” If your nonprofit’s purpose is protecting women and girls in the Cleveland area, try using “Great Lakes region” and “Northeastern Ohio” along with the city name. Executing this SEO technique will help you reach a broader audience.

Continue refining your nonprofit’s mission statement until you get it right; it’s worth the effort. If you need more guidance, use our step-by-step guide to writing a mission statement in one hour. 

Need a confidence booster as you write? Want to compare your draft to another nonprofit’s mission statement? Then check out some examples of flawed mission statements from Nonprofit Hub.

What methods have you found most helpful in writing your nonprofit’s mission statement?