5 Crucial Steps to Creating a Nonprofit Mission Statement That Stands Out
Creating a nonprofit mission statement is one of the essential activities nonprofit leaders make. When you develop a mission statement, you make the purpose of the charity clear to everyone. Also, a mission statement, if done correctly, will attract supporters and donors to your organization. Finally, when you have a clear mission statement, you can develop a vision statement that is bold and, well, visionary.
Before we get into the ways to develop a strong mission statement that will attract supporters, let's clarify the difference between mission and vision. The mission of your nonprofit, as stated, is the purpose. As a result, it answers the question, why do we exist? However, the vision statement is more about the destination. It answers the question, how will you accomplish the mission? It's future-oriented.
5 Tips for Creating a Nonprofit Mission Statement
As we know, most nonprofits depend on the generosity of donors. So, when you create a mission statement, it's vital to think about how to attract supporters. If possible, hire a consultant to work with you and your board on the mission and other obligations. A consultant will bring experience and best practices from work with other groups. Hiring a consultant will also provide you with an objective person throughout the process. No matter how you choose to proceed, with or without a consultant, the following tips will ensure a robust mission statement creation.
1. Create a Mission Statement With Supporters
If you're a founder or leader thinking about creating a nonprofit mission statement, do it with others. Ideally, you have a board of directors that wants to support you in every way possible. Therefore, as a best practice, you should ensure that your board serve in the process of creating a mission statement. When you work on it with a group, you avoid viewing it from only your perspective. Working with a group of people that includes board and critical constituents will allow you diverse ideas and perspectives. In other words, it will make your mission statement stronger.
2. Keep It Simple
As you know, we live in a world where people have vast amounts of information. Because of it, the public receives continual messaging and advertising throughout the day. Therefore, if you're starting a nonprofit or reworking your existing mission, one of the best things you can do is to keep it simple.
Think about your mission statement as an elevator pitch. Meaning, if you found yourself in an elevator with a prospective donor, you should be able to explain your mission before the doors open, and you get out. Take a look at great examples from TopNonprofits of clear and concise mission statements.
3. A Mission Statement Should Inspire
The first and second sentences of your mission statement should communicate a powerful message, which will compel people to support. Think of your mission statement as something that will not only inspire, but also motivate people to act. When you craft a concise and inspiring mission statement, include action words.
For instance, some of the best mission statements have words such as "to preserve," "to support" or "to empower." All of these are ideas are grounded in action, which is what your mission statement should seek to accomplish.
4. Share the Draft
Once you've developed the draft of your mission statement, share it. Allow other people, including donors who are close to you, to see it. Ask them to tell you what they think of it and, more importantly, if it would motivate them to support the cause. Thus, when you create your draft, don't get stuck on any particular wording.
If need be, tweak and change a word or two if it strengthens what your group wants to convey. Once you've gone through a period where you've shared it with others, you will feel more content and confident about it because others will also affirm your thinking.
5. Keep the Mission Statement Alive
Finally, you want to ensure that your mission statement is kept alive. You don't want to create it and then forget about it. So think about all of the ways that you can display and share your mission statement. Remember, it's the very reason for your nonprofit’s existence. It's the purpose and cause you and others work at each day and support.
Your mission should be part of your marketing materials, including social media. With a well-done, concise and actionable mission statement that stands out in everything you do, you'll find that volunteers and donors will want to be engaged.
Sandra Pfau Englund is the founder of myRENOSI, the easiest way for nonprofit organizations to get started and stay in compliance with government paperwork.
Sandra earned her master's degree in nonprofit management and a law degree from George Washington University, and has dedicated her 25-year career to promoting the importance of successful nonprofit organizations.
She is a sought-after expert and has been quoted by NBC's TODAY show, Forbes and The Wall Street Journal, among others. She is a published author and speaks throughout the country on issues related to nonprofit legal liability, financial controls, board development and fundraising.