Why is a "good" mission statement important?

It is unfortunate, but true, that at many nonprofits neither the staff nor the board know the agency’s mission statement, usually because it is either too long, boring or both. This also means that no one outside the organization knows the agency’s mission either. An agency’s mission statement, however, is extremely important for:

  • Communicating the essence of your organization to its stakeholders and the public;      
  • Using as a marketing tool that supports the agency’s fundraising; and                            
  • Keeping your agency’s board and staff focused in future program and organizational planning.

Therefore, in just one or two sentences your nonprofit’s mission statement should provide answers to the following questions:

  • Why do you exist?          
  • What do you do?        
  • Whom do you serve?        
  • What impact do you make in the community?

Answering these four questions in a clear, concise manner, with language that demonstrates your unique contribution to the community will attract the public’s interest, as well as motivate your current donors and stakeholders.

Finally, there are several rules to remember when putting together your agency’s mission statement, or when reviewing it during an organizational planning session. A good mission statement:

  • Should NOT be too long, or so full of clauses that it cannot be read easily;
  • Should be free of jargon that ordinary people will not understand;
  • Should communicate WHY your agency exists, not just who, what or how;
  • Should move people emotionally so they can relate to the need you address; and
  • Should be memorable with a clear description of your organization’s impact in the community.

Clarity concerning your mission statement is vital if your organization, your donors, and the public at large, are going to know what you are doing and how you benefit the community.