Vision and mission statements define your organization and set its direction. Because your vision and mission statements are the basis for your organization’s existence, its programs and services, and it goals and objectives, it is imperative to attentively construct and com-municate meaningful, motivational statements. Both statements should be short enough to memorize, yet informational and inspirational. After reading your vision and mission, a per-son with no prior knowledge of your organization should have a good understanding of what you do and why you do it.
Vision and mission statements should be definitive yet open and flexible enough to respond to environmental changes. Vision and mission statements tend to be in place for the long-term; however, they can be revised as the direction of the organization shifts. In fact, some people have suggested that they are too prescriptive and therefore unnecessary. Because many philanthropic partners request a copy, they are certainly relevant and necessary for nonprofit organizations.
A vision statement is idea-oriented, while a mission statement is action-oriented. I find it helpful to think of the vision as the map and the mission statement as the directions.
A vision statement is a short phrase or sentence that paints a picture of the end result of your organization’s work. It is written as though your organization has accomplished all it has set out to do. It is the organization’s reason for existence. It is your guiding light.
A mission statement describes your organization and explains who you are, what you do, how you do it, where you do it, and why your organization’s purpose and goals are important. It explains how your organization is going to achieve its vision.
Because it can be so integral to the purpose of your organization, the process of develop-ing vision and mission statements should be undertaken with great care. Input from all stakeholders should be considered so that these guiding statements are truly reflective of not only the organization but also the community which the organization has been de-signed to serve.
Once the vision and mission statements have been established, they can be used internally to guide organizational priorities and decision making in addition to being used externally to succinctly communicate the essence of your organization’s work. They can be used on your website, newsletter, annual report, and other documents to ground your organization’s communications in the vision and mission.
Discussion questions to guide the creation of a vision statement:
What would an ideal world look like?
How can and does our organization contribute to this ideal world?
Discussion questions to guide the creation of a mission statement:
Who does our organization serve?
What geographic area does our organization serve?
What does our organization do to address community needs?
Why does our organization exist?
How does our organization work to realize our vision?
What makes our organization unique?
This post is an excerpt from my new book, The Fruition Coalition Grant Proposal Workbook.
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