This post has been updated from a previous article from 2015 written by Hillary Skeffington.
Your nonprofit mission statement is the core that defines the purpose of your organization. It's the first thing people mention when they're writing about you, or on a listing of your organization on sites like Guidestar. Your mission is a cohesive statement that describes what you do and why you exist.
Crafting this statement is vital. You don't want to leave that up to question by those unfamiliar with your organization. More than this, your mission is the heart and soul of your organization, something that should be referred back to whenever faced with important decisions regarding the future of your nonprofit.
Many nonprofit mission statements can be very hit or miss. 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. While some mission statements may also be inspiring, if you find your mission statement is running long, turn to your vision statement to spark inspiration. Trying to squeeze in an inspirational phrase can often cause confusion. Remember, your mission statement should be easily understood by people completely unfamiliar with your cause, so avoid technical words not widely known outside of your nonprofit.
To learn more about how to create a nonprofit mission statement, check out infographic here.
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 compiled a list of 20 inspirational nonprofit mission statements.
Saving life on earth.
To feed America’s hungry through a nationwide network of member food banks and engage our country in the fight to end hunger.
Protecting and restoring the world's oceans.
To provide a free, world‑class education for anyone, anywhere.
To accelerate and amplify the impact of local education advocates in countries where girls are most likely to miss out on secondary education.
To inspire conservation of the ocean. And we couldn't do it without you.
Bringing clean and safe drinking water to people in developing countries.
Together, we create life-changing wishes for children with critical illnesses.
To provide effective means for the prevention of cruelty to animals throughout the United States.
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.
To inspire hope and contribute to health and well-being by providing the best care to every patient through integrated clinical practice, education and research.
To inspire lifelong learning, advance knowledge, and strengthen our communities.
To conserve the land and waters on which all life depends.
We connect people around the world in the fight to end poverty. Working together, we invest in the lives of children and youth, build the healthy environments they need to thrive, and empower them to create lasting change in their own lives and communities.
To help people whose lives and livelihoods are shattered by conflict and disaster to survive, recover and gain control of their future.
CARE works around the globe to save lives, defeat poverty and achieve social justice.
Seeking to put God’s love into action, Habitat for Humanity brings people together to build homes, communities and hope.
To transform aid and philanthropy to accelerate community-led change.
Realizing the promise of the Bill of Rights for all and expanding the reach of its guarantees to new areas.
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?