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The Elements Of A Good Mission Statement Are Critical For Nonprofit Board Members To Know

Mission Statements: 15 Must-See Examples and How to Craft Your Own


Your mission statement is the foundation for everything your organization does. In essence, your mission becomes your constitution.

All questions and answers point directly to your mission statement, and by reviewing other mission statement examples, your organization can create a concise and compelling mission statement of your own.

To guide your organization, we:

  • Define ‘mission statement’
  • Discuss what makes a good mission statement
  • Outline how to write a mission statement in six steps
  • Provide 15 mission statement examples to inspire your own

What Is a Mission Statement?

A mission statement expresses an organization’s purpose and how it plans to serve its customers. It is a fundamental guide that shapes the organization’s direction.

For-profit and nonprofit boards tend to refer to the mission statement when making important decisions to help them stay mission-focused.

What Makes a Good Mission Statement?

A mission statement’s meaning should be clear the first time anyone reads it. It must be pointed and unambiguous, typically containing around 100 words and one to three sentences. Similar to a vision statement, it’s best to use common language that everyone understands and avoid using jargon or buzzwords.

Good mission statements have similar characteristics. We’ve distilled these traits into the following list:

  • Simple — It doesn’t contain complicated or unnecessary words. The tone should be casual, conversational and relatable.
  • Captivating — Use the present tense and state your organization’s purpose in a powerful way that makes an emotional connection with people. The idea is to get buy-in for your organization’s purpose.
  • Measurable — Craft your mission statement in a way that enables you to measure your results. For example, a mission statement that speaks about not harming the environment should be able to present facts to demonstrate how they achieve that.
  • Relevant — Readers should be able to see immediately how the mission statement applies to them or how it relates to their lives.
  • Long-term — The mission statement should continue to be valid as the organization grows. Take some cues from the long-term goals in the annual strategic plan for your organization.

A good mission statement will stand the test of time and will not need to be revised often. Your board should revisit the mission statement annually to be sure it coincides with the organization’s current offerings.

Who Writes the Mission Statement?

An entrepreneur or a group of senior leaders typically writes the mission for a for-profit corporation. By contrast, the founding members of a nonprofit generally work on developing a mission statement.

In either case, an organization could form a committee to explore whether it’s necessary to update, expand or revise the mission statement years later.

How to Write a Mission Statement

It takes time and effort to brainstorm ideas and develop them to craft the most effective mission statement. Adding diverse perspectives is one way to help shape the conversation. These varying experiences will result in a well-rounded mission statement that will resonate with employees and customers.

To write a compelling, impactful mission statement, your group must dig deep to understand what you are trying to convey. From there, our step-by-step process (outlined below) will guide you to the finish line of creating your mission statement.

The following questions will generate good discussions about your organization’s purpose:

  • What are your core values?
  • What audience are you trying to reach?
  • What image are you trying to preserve?
  • Why should your audience seek out your organization?
  • Why should investors or donors be interested?
  • What distinct value does your organization bring?
  • What makes your organization unique?

6 Steps to Write a Mission Statement For Maximum Impact

With your notes and some mission statement examples, your group can confidently write a mission statement using this step-by-step process.

  1. Identify your organization’s products or services.
  2. State your organization’s core values.
  3. Draw a connection between your organization’s offerings and describe how it aligns with its core values.
  4. Brainstorm ideas on the best ways to tell your organization’s story.
  5. Consolidate ideas and create a list of potential mission statements.
  6. Narrow the choices down to one mission statement and finalize the wording clearly and concisely.

Crafting or revising your mission statement is a labor of love. Outline it, write it, proofread it and rewrite it until it’s right. Then, go back to those original questions you wanted to answer and test your mission statement against them. When it feels right, you’ll know you’ve hit the right tone and you can celebrate your accomplishment.

We’ve included the mission statement examples below to provide even more inspiration to craft the perfect mission statement.

15 Mission Statement Examples

Organizations put a lot of time and effort into creating the perfect mission statement, and mission statement examples can provide much food for thought as you create your own.

Examples of mission statements that are well-crafted enable your group to take a closer look at the word choices and structures developed by other organizations to communicate their reasons for being.

Below, we share examples of mission statements and highlight what makes them great.

1. Museum of Modern Art (MOMA)  The purpose is clear, and the language is simple.

“The Museum of Modern Art connects people from around the world to the art of our time. We aspire to be a catalyst for experimentation, learning, and creativity, a gathering place for all, and a home for artists and their ideas.” 

2. American Red Cross  The audience and goal are clear, and it’s compelling.

“To prevent and alleviate human suffering in the face of emergencies by mobilizing the power of volunteers and the generosity of donors.”

3. Greenpeace International   It resonates with people because of its reference to sustainability and diversity.

“Our goal is to ensure the ability of the earth to nurture life in all its diversity.”

4. Doctors Without Borders — It offers a strong emotional appeal that resonates with most people.

“To provide impartial medical relief to the victims of war, disease, and natural or man-made disaster, without regard to race, religion, or political affiliation.”

5. United Nations  It’s a bit wordy for a mission statement, yet it’s justified because of its global impact.

“We are dedicated to our clients, providing them with comprehensive, timely, and impartial protocol-based services and guidance through:

  • Serving the Member States and Observers accredited to the UN through their Missions and Offices 
  • Acting as the primary liaison between the Host Country and the Member States and Observers, in line with general diplomatic and host country guidelines 
  • Assisting the Secretary-General, the Deputy Secretary-General, the President of the General Assembly, and all offices and departments within the UN System on protocol-related matters”

6. Sweetgreen — The “what” and “who” are crystal clear.

“Building healthier communities by connecting people to real food.”

7. Google — Encapsulates the scope of their service.

“To organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”

8. Nordstrom — Connects with a wide audience as everyone wants to look their best.

“We exist to help our customers feel good and look their best.”

9. TED — A powerful and inspirational, yet concise message.

To discover and spread ideas that spark imagination, embrace possibility, and catalyze impact.” 

10. Cradles to Crayons — Albeit a bit wordy, the sentiment is compelling to volunteers and donors.

“To provide children from birth through age 12, living in homeless or low-income situations, with the essential items they need to thrive, – at home, at school, and at play. We supply these items free of charge by engaging and connecting communities.”

11. LinkedIn — It attracts professional people to what is important to them.

“The mission of LinkedIn is simple: connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful.”

12. Asana — It speaks of harmony in the workplace.

“To help humanity thrive by enabling the world’s teams to work together effortlessly.”

13. Tesla — It creates a sense of urgency and hope for the future.

“To accelerate the advent of sustainable transport by bringing compelling mass market electric cars to market as soon as possible.”

14. Microsoft — It’s globally inclusive.

“Our mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.”

15. Disney — It emphasizes the power of storytelling to inspire a global audience.

“The mission of The Walt Disney Company is to entertain, inform and inspire people around the globe through the power of unparalleled storytelling, reflecting the iconic brands, creative minds, and innovative technologies that make ours the world’s premier entertainment company.”

This selection of business mission examples and nonprofit mission examples is appropriate for any organization to review before creating its own.

Final Thoughts About Mission Statements

To sum things up, your board needs to understand what a mission statement is and how to create the best possible mission for your work. An excellent place to start is by reviewing lots of examples of mission statements to decipher what works best.

Creating an environment where ideas can flow quickly and freely is the best way to ensure you build a solid mission statement. A board portal is one of the best ways to facilitate these conversations and track ideas — even in cases where stakeholders cannot be present in person.

Discover how BoardEffect can aid in everything from creating your mission statement to maintaining a well-running board.

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