20 Effective Nonprofit Mission Statements

Hillary Skeffington November 23, 2015, by Hillary Skeffington

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Mission statements can be very hit-or-miss in the nonprofit industry. Nonprofits alike tend to clutter a seemingly simple way of stating the purpose of their organization with too many words, or overly complicated jargon. In short, nonprofit mission statements should be clear, concise, and memorable. Some may even add inspiring to this list of descriptors, though, that specific element can conjure up some incoherence and confusion.

definition of mission statement

Much like the rest of the content on your nonprofit’s website, a mission statement takes strategic planning, testing, and implementation to nail it. It’s communicating the entirety of your organization in one short text bite in both an original, yet concise way.

To get the creative wheels churning, we’ve concluded a list of the 20 best nonprofit mission statements.

1. charity:water

charity: water is a non-profit organization bringing clean and safe drinking water to people in developing nations.

2. Oxfam

Our vision is a just world without poverty.

3. Invisible Children

We are ending the LRA conflict in the only way we know how: through innovative programs that protect communities in central Africa, and lay the foundation for lasting peace in the post-conflict region.

4. TED

Spread Ideas.

5. H.O.P.E Inc

Empower, encourage, and equip low-income single parents to obtain a college degree, develop essential life skills, and ultimately become self-sufficient.

6. Foster Youth in Action

Foster Youth in Action (FYA) builds the skills of foster youth to organize and advocate for change.

7. Sidelines

We believe that families can cope more successfully with a high-risk pregnancy with appropriate medical intervention, education, and a strong support system.

8. Livestrong

We improve the lives of people affected by cancer now.

9. NPR

The mission of NPR is to work in partnership with Member Stations to create a more informed public — one challenged and invigorated by a deeper understanding and appreciation of events, ideas and cultures.

10. Feeding America

Our mission is to feed America’s hungry through a nationwide network of member food banks and engage our country in the fight to end hunger.

11. Girl Effect

Change the world for girls and enable girls in their unique capacity to change  the world.

12. MOMA

Founded in 1929 as an educational institution, The Museum of Modern Art is dedicated to being the foremost museum of modern art in the world.

13. care

To serve individuals and families in the poorest communities in the world.

14. R U 4 Children

Nourish the Hungry, Inspire the Broken, Connect the World.

15. UNICEF - United States Fund

Working to make the world better for children.

16. The Nature Conservancy

Protecting nature, for people today and future generations.

17. Gates Foundation

We seek to unlock the possibility inside every individual.

18. American Red Cross

The American Red Cross prevents and alleviates human suffering in the face of emergencies by mobilizing the power of volunteers and the generosity of donors.

19. Purpose

Driven by people, enabled by technology: Purpose builds movements and new power models to tackle the world's biggest problems.

20. UnLtd

UnLtd's mission is to reach out and unleash the energies of people who can transform the world in which they live. We call these people social entrepreneurs.

Now, what?

Crafting a mission statement that communicates your nonprofit, but doesn't exceed more than the necessary word amount can be a difficult task. If you're in need of some guidance in order to craft yours, ask yourself (and team) these 5 questions:

  • Is the statement longer than 20 words?
  • Could it be less than 15 words? Or even better, less than 10 words?
  • Does it clearly and simply communicate your message?
  • How simple is the language?
  • If you can't make the statement less than 20 words, can you make a succinct tagline from it that fits around 6-8 words?

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Hillary Skeffington

Hillary Skeffington

Hillary Skeffington is the Communications & Partnership Manager at Elevation. While Hillary started as a volunteer for nonprofits, she has recently dived into the nonprofit web design industry in efforts to provide nonprofits with quality websites so they can drive greater change with their online presence.

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