What’s in a Mission Statement? 

Blog Post by: Allie Duggan

A mission statement is the core of a multitude of branches in a non-profit. Most importantly, it sets the tone for future donors and lays a foundation for what your organization will look and feel like. The mission statement is translated into the branding and marketing throughout the life of an organization, that’s why it’s so important to have a strong one. Not only does a mission statement inform an audience about what you do, it creates a focus and motivates the team working behind it. It even helps to guide initiatives for future campaigns.

A clear and concise mission statement is key to inform others about what you do. This isn’t the opportunity to be verbose, you really want to get the point in the least amount of words possible. This keeps it simple and easy to digest, ideally using words below a 10th grade reading level. The average length for an effective mission statement is between 5 and 15 words, max. That might not seem like enough, but if you are using the right words, you can definitely get your point across effectively. The longer it is, the easier it is to lose your audience while they read it. Below are a few extremely effective mission statements from organizations that are free of buzzwords and fluff:

Smithsonian: The increase and diffusion of knowledge.

AARP: To enhance quality of life for all as we age.

MoMA: To share great modern and contemporary art with the public. 

The Alzheimer’s Association leads the way to end Alzheimer’s and all other dementia.

The Humane Society: We fight the big fights to end suffering for all animals.

American Heart Association: To be a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives.

As you can see from the examples, these mission statements are short and to the point. They are easy to remember and allow for people to communicate them to others when they are advocating for a cause.

When a mission statement is too long, you run into problems like limiting what your organization does. If you go with something broad and simple, you have room for growth as an organization and you won’t constantly be having to update the statement as that growth happens. This applies to branding as well since that is all based off of the statement. If you have a strong mission statement, you will have strong branding to support it and stand the test of time. This eliminates the potential of alienating donors and supporters every time you’re updating your statement or brand, consistency is very important to stay relevant and resonate with people.

All in all, when it comes to a mission statement, simplicity is what you need to remember. Don’t try to be trendy, that comes and goes. Look deep within what it is you are trying to do and explain it in as few words as possible. If you have only a couple minutes to explain to someone the impact of your organization, what would you tell them you do?