Tips for writing a great nonprofit mission statement

February 4, 2016

Tips for writing a great nonprofit mission statement

A mission statement is an important piece of communication for nonprofit organizations because it is used to communicate an organization’s aims and values to a wide audience: their board, employees, funding sources and other stakeholders. By considering some notable nonprofit’s mission statements that follow, they all have one thing in common: They focus and clearly define each organization’s strategy.

“The world’s largest petition platform, empowering people everywhere to create the change they want to see.”
“We defend the natural world and promote peace by investigating, exposing and confronting environmental abuse, and championing environmentally responsible solutions.” –Greenpeace
“To enhance the dignity and quality of life of individuals and families by helping people reach their full potential through education, skills training and the power of work.” –Goodwill
“To promote student achievement and preparation for global competitiveness by fostering educational excellence and ensuring equal access.” -U.S. Department of Education

Focused and clearly defined mission statements can also provide a strong description of where the nonprofit is headed, set the organization apart from other organizations and make a convincing case for the need it fills in their community. Below are some other tips to keep in mind when creating or revising a mission statement.

• Make a list:
 Ask for input from the community being served. Gather board members and stakeholders and brainstorm a list of things they would like the organization to accomplish.

• Answer questions:
Who – Who will the organization serve?
What – What service will the organization provide?
Where – Where will the service be provided?
Why – Why was the organization established and what unmet needs will it solve? Some nonprofits describe this as a vision statement.

• BUT keep it short, sweet and to the point:
A good mission statement is free of jargon, uses action words, and quantifies a specific goal in 15 words or less.

 Other Mission Statement Tips
 – Establish a review process – A mission statement is necessary in order to maintain a 501c3 status. Organizations should review their mission statement every 3 years to ensure it aligns with their charitable purpose.
– Use mission statements on organizational stationary, websites and communication.
 The time, attention, and money (if a professional writer is hired) it takes to write a mission statement is well worth the investment. It will be a labor of love but the result will be the backbone that guides organizations to success.

 Below is a breakdown of our own mission statement:


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CCSCT was approached by First NonProfit to discuss its Unemployment Savings Program and ways the program could significantly reduce the amount of unemployment taxes we were paying. At the time, our agency was paying approximately $80,000 per year. First NonProfit conducted an analysis to determine if making the switch would be in our best interest, and it clearly was based on our circumstances. The first year on the program, CCSCT saw a 70% reduction in its unemployment costs and each year, continues to experience further reductions as a result of having minimal claims. Some additional benefits of the program including having a fixed annual cost, an interest-baring reserve account, professional unemployment claims management and representation at all unemployment hearings. This has been one of the best decisions we have made.

Community Council of South Central Texas, Inc., Seguin, TX

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Prevent Blindness America, Chicago, IL

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