It doesn’t matter if you work for a nonprofit organization, Fortune 500 company, church, or a small business, you need to have a mission statement. A mission statement is what directs, guides, and motivates the employees and volunteers of your nonprofit to work hard and make a difference. My favorite way to write a mission statement is to include as many employees as possible and use individual words to create a mission statement.
The first step to writing a mission statement is to include as many people as possible in the process. You must do this if you want everyone at your nonprofit to “buy in” on the mission statement that is created. One of the worst things you can do is send your board members out to some corporate planning retreat, let them put a new mission statement together, and then have them try to push and enforce it onto the rest of the nonprofit. If you want your entire nonprofit to buy in on your new mission statement, they need to be included in the process.
When you sit down to create your mission statement, you want everyone from the C.E.O. to the mailman ready to participate in the process. The second step is to have a dry erase board ready to write. This is when the strongest leader at your nonprofit takes over and asks everyone in the room to describe in one word sentences what your nonprofit is, does, and wants to become. Words such as “great,” “leader,” “#1,” “best,” “service,” and other words that describe the company. Every word goes on the board, because you will be able to discard the ones you don’t like later.
After everyone in the room has ran out of words to use to describe what your nonprofit is, does, and wants to become you will now select what words you want to combine into a sentence(s) to form your mission statement. While first doing this, you can have several mission statements. Play with them, change them and tweak them until you finally find and develop one that you and the rest of your nonprofit like.
Below is a list of my favorite mission statements from some outstanding nonprofits:
- The American Cancer Society is the nationwide community-based voluntary health organization dedicated to eliminating cancer as a major health problem by preventing cancer, saving lives, and diminishing suffering from cancer, through research, education, advocacy, and service. – American Cancer Society
- United Samaritans Foundation’s mission is to deliver food to people in need in Stanislaus County, and to facilitate the provision of services to those people to assist them in a transition to a better quality of life. – United Samaritans Foundation
- A Day of Hope gives hope and encouragement by delivering baskets of food and turkeys to hungry families for Thanksgiving – A Day of Hope