Why Bother with Vision and Mission Statements?

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Why Bother with Vision and Mission Statements?

 Some people think it’s a total waste of time to create a Vision and Mission Statement for a non-profit organization.  After all, doesn’t everybody know why the organization exist?

They don’t.

Worse – the members of the board, volunteers and staff may not either and act upon their own interpretation of the organization’s purpose.  Moreover, clashes may occur based on these interpretations and resulting expectations.

The Group

As with any group of people  thrown together, there a foundation must exist upon which to build and from which to plan and focus.

In order to plan, you need to know your destination. 

What’s the difference between Mission and Vision Statements?

The Mission statements states your purpose – who, what, where, why, how, when

The Vision Statement states where you are heading – your GPS destination and reflects the values the organization holds.

What’s a Vision Statement?

A Vision Statement consists of the “dream” – what growth or changes or aspirations would the group like the organization as whole to achieve at some point in the future.   In other words, a long-term goal. Where are you going?

Will it be forever?  No.  In fact, schedule a revision anywhere from 4 to 6 years.  Most people think in 5-year terms. 

Yes, it has a time limit.  Why?  Because things change.   

A best practice here is to write a date on the Vision Statement document in board binders and in the Constitutional and By-Laws binder. 

Create an organizational calendar available to everyone on which these future activities are recorded.  Use online free scheduling software and have a hard copy regularly updated for everyone concerned.

How should a Vision Statement Read?

Inspirational.  It should stretch the current state of affairs.  Everyone should be able to “see it”.

How does that happen?

By getting everyone involved – everyone.  You’ll get the best ideas if staff, volunteers, board and other supporters are involved. It’s a little like naming the baby whale at the zoo.   It builds interest because everyone got a chance to be involved. 

If you can, get everyone in a big room with a facilitator.  Generally, it’s best to hire an outside facilitator to avoid the hint of bias or let someone take over the meeting.  The critical factor here is to hear everyone’s ideas, record them and, as a group, come up with a statement everyone can agree upon.


to get one sentence which describes where you are heading  – being the best at . . . or curing . . . . or achieving . . . – whatever the group would like to see as the overarching aim within the set time period.


Next blog, we’ll talk about Mission Statements


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