Speaking on the importance of a mission statement, American educator and businessman Stephen Covey says “A mission statement is not something you write overnight, but fundamentally, your mission statement becomes your constitution, the solid expression of your vision and values. It becomes the criterion by which you measure everything else in your life.”
A mission statement is both a vision for your organization’s future and the constitution by which it will be achieved.
A mission statement is also how you help your nonprofit stand out among your peers. There are over 1.5 million nonprofits in the United States alone. Having a well-crafted mission statement is essential to helping people know what you’re about and why they should support you.
We’re going to give you some ideas about writing effective mission statements. Our goals exist to help showcase your business in its best possible light.
Writing Effective Mission Statements
There’s no such thing as a boilerplate mission statement. Effective mission statements illustrate the unique strengths and perspectives of your business. There’s never going to be a cut-and-paste strategy for crafting the perfect mission.
There are some things you can keep in mind, however, that will get you thinking along the lines of what makes a mission statement effective.
Before you even put pen to paper, you’d do well to spend some time thinking about what it is that makes your organization unique. What is it that separates you from the other nonprofits out there? What is your driving passion and how do you hope to achieve it?
Start off with a general brainstorming session. Pull out the whiteboard or notebooks and start free-associating about your non-profit. If your company has multiple employees, try and incorporate as many people as possible.
Don’t worry about polishing or fine-tuning these insights just yet. First, you’ll come up with a pool of ideas about your nonprofit’s unique value proposition (UVP). Then you’ll whittle it down into a concise, memorable mission statement.
This is not only important for new nonprofits to do, it is also a very smart practice for seasoned organizations. Take a day or two to get back to your roots and ensure your current mission statement still aligns with what you do. Make some tweaks if you need to!
Essential Components Of A Mission Statement
For a mission statement to be truly effective, it should answer the five Ws of journalism.
Your mission statement should begin with who you are. Then it should address what your organization is and does. Next, you should dive into why your organization is important, which will help differentiate you from other businesses in your sector.
These are the main biographical points that should be mentioned in your mission statement. The when could be covered in sharing your origin story. The where could be useful in appealing to local organizations or audiences.
Beyond the five Ws, your mission statement should include four major points, which will help your nonprofit stand out:
It’s uncommon to encounter people who are willing to do something for nothing. People want to see how supporting your nonprofit is going to be good for them, their community, and the causes they support.
Here’s another opportunity to share your origin story and your heart. This will give your audience an idea of what you’re about. It will help to convey your passion, which is important towards the longevity of your nonprofit.
If someone’s not passionate about the project they’re working in, it’s unlikely that it will ever come to full fruition.
People need to see that your idea is realistic and not just a pipedream. Your mission statement should include something behind it about how you plan on implementing your goals. It should also address any accomplishments you’ve already made in that direction. Since we don’t want mission statements to be too lengthy, these points could be addressed further in your vision statement.
Business owners and financiers speak and think in business terms. Laying out your mission statement in a way that business owners can relate to will make a great impact on how likely they are to support your vision.
Think In The Long-Term (And The Short-Term)
For the most effective mission statements, you should be thinking about the big picture as well as the steps you’ll need to take there. Think about this like your one, five, and ten-year plans.
First, this helps you hone in on what you hope your nonprofit will achieve. This is an important part of the heart of your mission statement, and your organization in general. This will make it infinitely easier to convey your purpose and passion to potential investors, collaborators, and audiences.
It will also help you clarify which of your short-term goals you should be focusing on. This is one of the main benefits of a mission statement. It helps everyone in your enterprise get on the same page and working towards a common goal.
Edit and Refine
Now that you’ve come up with a bunch of raw material for your mission statement, you’re ready to start whittling it down to an actual, actionable message. It’s like Thomas Edison reminds us, “Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration.”
Now that you’ve got the base elements of your mission statement together, you’re going to have to start thinking like a marketer and business owner. You’re going to have to sculpt the messages you’ve come up with during your discovery phase into a memorable, easily understandable message.
You’ll want to do some research during the editing phase. Read other company’s mission statements. Don’t just stick to the nonprofit sector, either.
For-profit businesses are adept at the art of selling themselves, and their products and services. Pay attention to the marketing messages, particularly how they’re composed.
You’ll want to think like a poet as well as a marketer during the refinement stage of writing your mission statement. Pay special attention to literary tools like alliteration, which makes it easy to remember a particular slogan.
When it’s all said and done, you’ll be thinking as a nonprofit owner, a business person, and a member of your audience all at the same time. This will help you craft powerful mission statements that will resonate with your audience and organization alike.
Looking To Further Your Nonprofit?
It can sometimes seem like the cards are stacked against you when you’re running a nonprofit. You’re trying to take on the Herculean task of changing the world for love, not money. We’re often left working with limited time, money, energy, and resources.
We’re here to help fix that. We’ve been there, right where you are, right this second. Now that you know more about effective mission statements, request a free demo to find out how we can put you in touch with potential collaborators and volunteer opportunities.