Why Are Mission Statements Important
Many of us may need a clearer idea of our mission statement and how to make that statement memorable to others. Unfortunately, this means that the current mission statement of our nonprofit organization is ineffective. However, by learning from examples of good and bad nonprofit mission statements, we can ensure that our mission statement effectively communicates the purpose or goals of our organization. Before diving into examples, it is important to understand the significance of having a well-crafted mission statement.
The Attributes of Good and Bad Mission Statements
Your mission statement serves as a clear and concise representation of your nonprofit organization to those outside it.
Mission statements are essential tools for promoting and positioning your nonprofit organization in the minds of others. It is a way to make your organization stand out by highlighting the unique purpose that resonates with your supporters. It is also a way to communicate your organization’s message to the world.
3 Fundamental Elements of Mission Statements
1. The Cause (What is the issue? Who is affected? Where is the location or specific community?)
2. The Action (What are you doing to improve the cause?)
3. The Result (What impact does the action have on the cause?)
These fundamental elements characterize the most effective mission statements. Simplicity and clarity are crucial. Complexity does not necessarily add value to a mission statement. Brief, compelling introductions to the organization will spark enough interest to encourage further engagement. Mission statements should not provide a comprehensive overview of the organization but should give a glimpse of the organization at its core.
Examples of Nonprofit Mission Statements
The good, the bad, and the ugly.
Let’s look at mission statements from well-known organizations.
“We’re a nonprofit organization bringing clean and safe drinking water to people around the world.”
Review: This is a great mission statement because it is simple, emotional, and contains all three elements previously mentioned.
- Fluff: We’re a nonprofit organization
- Action: bringing
- Result: clean and safe drinking water
- Who/Cause: people around the world
The statement presents a problem, outlines an action to change the problem, then addresses the population served.
Springboard for the Arts:
“Springboard for the Arts is an economic and community development organization for artists and by artists. Our work is about building stronger communities, neighborhoods, and economies, and we believe that artists are an important leverage point in that work. Springboard for the Arts’ mission is to cultivate vibrant communities by connecting artists with the skills, information, and services they need to make a living and a life.”
Review: This is a worthy cause – utilizing art to create thriving communities – that we fully support. However, the mission could be more impactful if it were more succinct. By condensing a few sentences and crafting a powerful, motivating mission statement, it could also be easily shared on social media platforms like Twitter.
Update: Luckily, mission statements can be updated. Since this article was published, Springboard for the Arts has upgraded their statement to “Springboard for the Arts’ mission is to support artists with the tools to make a living and a life, and to build just and equitable communities full of meaning, joy, and connection.”
“Just do it.”
Review: Nike just did it. You’re inspired to go buy some sneakers and use that gym membership now, aren’t you? Same here.
The Women’s Center
“The mission of The Women’s Center is to significantly improve the mental health and well-being of all members of the community through counseling, education, support and advocacy.”
Review: The public and potential donors understand the nonprofit’s awesome work because they can read directly how their support (especially financial) is put to use. All it takes is keeping it simple!
5 Quick Tests For Your Mission Statement
- Check its Pronounceability: Try reading your mission statement out loud. Does it flow smoothly, or is it difficult to say?
- Test its Memorability: Ask a friend or colleague to read your mission statement aloud and then engage in a different conversation for a minute. Afterward, ask them to repeat the statement. If they struggle to recall it, it may need further revision.
- Seek feedback from outsiders: Gather feedback from individuals unfamiliar with your cause and ask them to evaluate your mission statement.
- Measure the end goal: Consider when your nonprofit will be able to declare “mission accomplished.” If there is no clear endpoint, it may be too vague.
- Gauge the ambiguity: Ensure your mission statement is unique to your organization and not too similar to other organizations.
A Mission Statement is Only Words
It’s critical to remember that more than a mission statement is required. While it’s easy to establish ambitious goals for your organization and devise a strategy, it’s equally important to take action and bring those goals to fruition. Your organization has a purpose. Now it’s time to make it a reality.
How to Write a Mission Statement
If you need more help, use our guide to writing a mission statement in one hour.
PS: Use the 5 Quick Tests above, and look at the opening chart. Do you pass? Do you need to revise your statement? Let’s all work together to craft awesome statements. Now you can work on your vision and values.
No matter how invested you are in your core mission and all that it takes to make it happen, starting and growing your nonprofit can be hard. There are so many hoops to jump through, from certifying your nonprofit status designation, developing a sustainable and effective nonprofit strategy, and more. That is a lot for one or a small group of people to handle. The team at BryteBridge specializing in helping new nonprofits have a strong start.