Develop a Mission and Vision

What is a mission statement?

Your mission statement is 1 concise sentence that says:

  • who you are an agency (name, nonprofit status and type of agency)
  • what you do 
  • who you serve and where (service area)

You can add information to your mission statement or elaborate on your mission statement.  Consider these questions: 

  • What is the problem or need your organization addresses? (illiteracy, teaching English, etc.)
  • Why is your organization unique? (one-to-one volunteer tutoring, free, flexible scheduling, family literacy, etc.)
  • Who benefits from your work? (low-literate adults in your community, immigrants, refugees, etc.)

What is a vision statement?

A vision statement expresses your organization’s optimal or ultimate goal and reason for existence. It should be brief, illustrating what you would like to see for the future.

How do you write a mission statement?

There is no formula for finding the wording that best expresses the collective intention of your organization.  Consider starting with a journalist’s 6 Ws :

—Who, What, When, Where, Why, and hoW—

  • Who does the organization serve?
  • What do you plan to accomplish, affect or change?
  • When will services be provided, or your goal reached?
  • Where does the organization serve?
  • Why does the organization exist? For what greater purpose or larger good? 
  • How will you accomplish this? Specify the services or activities.

For example:    The ABC Agency
How    provides art and music instruction and activities
Who    to all children ages 3 to 18
Where    in greater Anytown
When    after school
Why    in order to encourage
What    their intellectual and creative development.

One common approach to writing a mission statement:

  1. Have each steering committee/board member answer the questions above.
  2. As a group, discuss everyone’s individual answers to find consensus.
  3. Talk about where there are differences.
  4. Continue the conversation until everyone agrees on the answers.  
  5. Delegate 1 or 2 people from the board draft a mission statement.
  6. As a group, review the draft mission statement for feedback.
  7. Ask people who are unfamiliar with your organization to review and give feedback. Is your draft mission statement easy to understand and does it reflect your organization accurately?
  8. Edit and redraft the statement until everyone agrees with the wording. 

Examples of mission and vision statements are located at: