Take the time to be sure your mission statement is not meaningless gobbledygook and corporate crap speak. This is your chance to create a short statement that clearly tells people what you do.
How Are You Going to Get There?
Your vision statement tells about the world you envision. The next question is how do you get there? The answer to that question is your mission statement; it is what you are doing now to arrive at the future you foresee.
The goal of a mission statement is to clearly state what is is you do.
When someone asks you what you do, how do you answer? What words do you use to show what you really care about before their eyes glaze over?
You want to create a statement that is concise, compelling, and readily repeatable. A statement that all your board, staff, volunteers, donors and supporters can repeat easily.
The compelling part can be tough- what hook can you offer? Is there a word or short phrase that always comes to mind when you think about your work? What hooked you?
Short and Sweet
As with vision statements, be direct and say it straight out.
We help abandoned animals find forever homes.
We are a network of women who are facing breast cancer for mutual social support.
We offer arts and business education to inner city kids in Los Angeles.
Some Good Examples:
Here are 10 clear, direct and memorable mission statements: I bet you have seen or heard at least one of them.
TED: Spreading Ideas.
The Humane Society: Celebrating Animals, Confronting Cruelty.
Smithsonian: The increase and diffusion of knowledge.
Wounded Warrior Project: To honor and empower wounded warriors.
Best Friends Animal Society: A better world through kindness to animals.
Invisible Children: To bring a permanent end to LRA atrocities.
Public Broadcasting System (PBS): To create content that educates, informs and inspires.
USO lifts the spirits of America’s troops and their families.
National Wildlife Federation: Inspiring Americans to protect wildlife for our children’s future. (9)
American Heart Association: To build healthier lives, free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke.
Oxfam: To create lasting solutions to poverty, hunger, and social injustice.
These statements tell you what they are doing today.
Maybe not so fancy and lots of syllables, but they say exactly what what they do. You want to catch your reader’s eyes and make them want to linger. Once your statement has drawn them in, then you can add in all the fluff and other words you wish.
Have No Fear
There is a fear of putting down on paper ( or screen) what you say all the time. It seems that some people lose their voice when they have to write something; the words are stilted and stiff, jargony or just plain meaningless. Choose words you would use if you were speaking directly to the very people you want to attract.
Some Bad Examples:
- “Local 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. Local 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.”
The mission of The Women’s Center is to improve significantly the psychological, career, financial and legal well being of women, men, couples and families, regardless of their ability to pay.
XXX is diverse network representing EMS interest in our state developing partnerships with providers, to identify challenges, strategies, and opportunities to improve patient outcomes for all state residents.
What’s wrong with these: too long, vague and who would actually talk that way? Did you read any of them and understand what they do?
Developing a tight mission statement may not be the easiest thing to do, but an investment in creating a strong one will create an enduring identity for your organization. It is worth the time and effort.
Be creative, think differently about your purpose and method. There are lots and lots of words in the English language, find compelling ones. Three words in particular tend to show far too frequently, try to avoid them if you can:
Support works as both a noun (“Your support is invaluable”) and a verb (“Please support us”), which increases its use.
Make shows up in two of the most common phrases nonprofits use: “Make a donation” and “make a difference.” This word shows up approximately 75% nonprofit websites.
Provide With this verb you can rely on no one noticing. Putting this verb front and center pretty much assures that no one will notice the change you are creating. Not sure why this word is so popular, but its everywhere. Get a thesaurus.
Does your mission statement need some fine tuning? Be creative, think differently about your purpose and method. We’d love to listen to what you have. Call any time Good luck! 310 828 6979
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