One of the first steps in establishing a new organization is generating a vision statement that reflects the initial inspiration many founders feel when they decide to create their nonprofits. It’s purpose cannot be minimized, the vision statement speaks to the organization’s intention and why the organization needs to exist.
All organizations, including for-profit companies, nonprofits, charities and other groups, use vision statements to guide them with their essential work. They need to be clear on what role they will serve in the organization. Here, you’ll discover the following:
- Vision statement definition
- What is the purpose of a vision statement and why is it important?
- Vision vs. mission statement
- How to write a vision statement
- 25 vision statement examples
What Is a Vision Statement?
So what is the meaning of ‘vision statement’? A vision statement is a written document that describes where an organization is going and what it will look like when it gets there.
The length of a business vision statement is not generally a consideration. It can be short, long or anywhere in between. The important thing is to write it clearly and thoughtfully. Why? Because a it is a basis for everything a nonprofit does. For example, the board relies on the vision statement when making strategic plans and decisions. Moreover, the staff and volunteers also look to the vision statement for long-term direction, and donors will read your it when deciding whether to support your nonprofit.
Because your board will be referring to your business vision statement often, be sure to store it with your nonprofit’s mission statement in your BoardEffect board management system so board members can refer to it as needed.
Why Is a Vision Statement Important?
The board of directors needs to understand the importance of creating a thoughtful vision statement — it is at the heart of everything else they do.
A vision statement is meant to be shared and proud of. The vision communicates your organization’s value and commitment to achieving its goals.
Has your board considered the following reasons for taking sufficient time to create a meaningful vision statement?
- Provides a clear picture of the value your nonprofit gives to the community.
- Makes the contributions of your donors, staff, and volunteers more meaningful and inspires them.
- Helps attract and engage passionate, engaged people outside your regular networks.
- Clarifies the scope of your nonprofit’s work.
- Stands as a public commitment to following through on achieving your nonprofit’s goals.
A long-term approach to business means that the company desires to serve like-minded customers. A vision statement caters to the characteristics and lifestyle of the customers they serve as well as the market conditions.
Vision vs. Mission Statement: What’s the Difference?
While the two terms are closely related, there is a distinct difference between a vision and a mission statement. Each statement has a reason for existing and should not get used interchangeably
The most notable difference between a vision and a mission statement is the timeframe — a vision statement reflects the hopes of the future, and the mission statement reflects what is happening now.
The mission statement defines the nonprofit’s purpose, and it speaks to the original inspiration for the nonprofit. The length of mission statements varies from a short sentence to a few short sentences. A mission statement describes what the nonprofit is currently doing, who it serves and the benefits it provides.
Unlike a mission statement, which speaks to current programs and activities, a vision statement says where the nonprofit hopes to be once it fulfills its mission. Good vision statements are forward-thinking statements that sketch out what the nonprofit hopes to see in the future through its work.
How to Write a Vision Statement
Nonprofit board members should consider themselves visionary leaders who can communicate the nonprofit’s vision to others.
Writing a vision statement is a critical step in building a nonprofit. For that reason, nonprofit boards use their planning time wisely and give the process of writing sufficient time to create a statement that is clear and inspiring.
In forming your vision statement, your board may want to consider the following questions:
- What is our nonprofit’s true purpose?
- What do we hope our nonprofit can achieve?
- What are the core values that should be reflected in our vision statement?
- In what ways does the mission statement align with the core values of our nonprofit?
- How does the vision statement align with our nonprofit’s culture?
- Will our strategic goals for the next 5-10 years enable our statement to come to fruition?
As challenging as the process is, being part of a group that creates a nonprofit vision statement is rewarding. In creating a good statement, members of the group can give their nonprofit’s vision life by articulating it in words.
A quality vision statement has the following characteristics:
- Aligned with the nonprofit’s mission, core values, and culture
When creating your vision statement, avoid using jargon and make it inspiring.
Creating a Compelling Vision Statement: Step-by-Step
- Assemble a Team — Get input from outside the team. Ask for ideas from the founders, staff, volunteers, donors, and members of the community.
- Be Clear on the Nonprofit’s Purpose — Keep the nonprofit’s purpose at the center of your work. Write it in large letters and display it in your team’s work area.
- Create a Backward Roadmap — Start at your end goal of what you want to see and start working backward toward the present. Next, write out detailed steps that create a timeline that takes you from the current time to 5-10 years in the future.
- Make It Concise — While it’s important to have an ambitious vision, the vision statement must be powerful, yet realistic. Narrow it down to a few sentences.
- Get Feedback and Revise — A vision statement typically sounds awesome to the work team, but the first draft does not always translate as proficiently to others. Get feedback from others, consider it carefully, and revise it as necessary.
We can learn a lot from current examples of vision and mission statements from existing nonprofits and corporations.
25 Examples of Vision Statements
We’ve compiled the following vision statement examples to inspire the creation of your own:
- Avon — To be the company that best understands and satisfies the product, service and self-fulfillment needs of women—globally.
- Tesla — To create the most compelling car company of the 21st century by driving the world’s transition to electric vehicles.
- Meta (Facebook) — To bring the metaverse to life and help people connect, find communities, and grow businesses.
- Goodwill — Our vision is to transform lives and communities through the power of work.
- Alzheimer’s Association — A world without Alzheimer’s and all other dementia.
- Feed the Children — To create a world where no child goes to bed hungry.
- Habitat for Humanity — A world where everyone has a decent place to live.
- Mayo Clinic — Transforming medicine to connect and cure as the global authority in the care of serious or complex disease.
- Cross International — Christians united in overcoming physical and spiritual poverty.
- Oceana — Oceana seeks to make our oceans as rich, healthy, and abundant as they once were.
- Ford — To become the world’s most trusted company, designing smart vehicles for a smart world.
- IBM — To be the world’s most successful and important information technology company.
- Google — To provide access to the world’s information in one click.
- IKEA — To create a better everyday life for the many people.
- LinkedIn — To create economic opportunity for every member of the global workforce.
- Sony — Using our unlimited passion for technology, content, and services to deliver groundbreaking new excitement and entertainment, as only Sony can.
- TED University — TED University aims to be inspiring and unique in providing a transforming and liberating educational experience; and produce knowledge and create solutions through interaction with the town and society.
- Harvard College — Harvard College sets the standard for residential liberal arts and sciences education. We have committed to creating and sustaining the conditions that enable all Harvard College students to experience an unparalleled educational journey that is intellectually, socially, and personally transformative.
- Southwest Airlines — To be the world’s most loved, most efficient, and most profitable airline.
- NAMI — NAMI envisions a world where all people affected by mental illness live healthy, fulfilling lives supported by a community that cares.
- Astellas — Create innovative new drugs and medical solutions by leveraging our core capabilities.
- American Express — Provide the world’s best customer experience every day.
- UHS — UHS, the region’s leading integrated healthcare system, will demonstrate exceptional value in the delivery of coordinated, patient-centered care.
- Asana — To help humanity thrive by enabling the world’s teams to work together effortlessly.
- Coca-Cola — Our vision is to craft the brands and choice of drinks that people love, refresh them in body & spirit. And done in ways that create a more sustainable business and better shared future that makes a difference in people’s lives, communities, and our planet.
Key Takeaways on Leveraging Vision Statement Examples to Create One for Your Nonprofit
There are several key takeaways to consider as your nonprofit learns from the vision statement examples that we’ve listed here for existing corporations and nonprofits. Your nonprofit’s mission statement and vision statement serve different purposes and your team should understand the differences between them.
We have given you examples of good vision statements that are short and long for your review. Each of them is impactful in its own way.
Good vision statements should be a central part of strategic planning for nonprofits. Because it guides all aspects of a company, boards should take their time in developing it.
Once the vision statement is created, share it with the world and communicate it with a sense of pride.