How to Write an Effective Mission Statement
An effective mission statement is vital in our busy society. You need to be able to communicate the purpose of your organization with clarity and ease when given the opportunity. Montanans are passionate about commitment to their issues and this informs their mission statements.
. . . . As important as missions are, nonprofits frequently go off in ineffective directions by relying on mission statements that can be little more than slogans. At a time when nonprofits around the world are struggling both to stay afloat and to achieve their missions, they are missing out on one of the most valuable tools to available to them.
As important as they are, mission statements are frequently little more than slogans. Many are lengthy and ambiguous or, to be useful, they must be accompanied by vision statements and lists of values, goals, principles and objectives. Because they are not carefully constructed, most mission statements cannot be used for regular and rigorous analysis, as is the case with corporate sales and profits. Furthermore, many nonprofit managers do not instill the discipline in their organizations to use the mission on a regular basis as a tool to make decisions and achieve goals. Quite the opposite is true with the sales and profit budgets of successful corporations.
An effective mission statement must be a clear description of where an organization is headed in the future that distinctly sets it apart from other entities and makes a compelling case for the need it fills. Furthermore, this mission must be short, memorable and appropriate for a variety of organizational stakeholders including, for example, employees, funding sources, served constituencies and the Board of Trustees. . . .
One organization that has gotten it right is the Nature Conservancy with its mission “to preserve the plants, animals and natural communities that represent the diversity of life on Earth by protecting the lands and waters they need to survive.” This mission has been unchanged for years and the organization has been highly successful because its mission is simple (only 26 words), crystal clear and compelling.
For a nonprofit, in the end it is smart action that is equivalent to making a profit. As much time and energy should be devoted to creating a mission statement as to creating a sales and profit budget.