How to Write a Nonprofit Vision Statement

Lauren Uhl July 02, 2019, by Lauren Uhl

Close your eyes for a moment and imagine this: 

What would the world look like if your nonprofit achieved maximum influence?  What injustices would be eradicated? What demographics would be uplifted? What core values would become universal? 

Now, open. 

Congratulations! You’re halfway there to conceptualizing your vision statement because in essence, it should mirror this potential reality. Now comes the technical side: in order to successfully construct your vision statement, you should write it in a concise and inspirational way. 

Keeping it concise

The key to a concise vision statement is having a clear focus of the need your nonprofit will serve, or the injustice it will alleviate. You can pull ideas from your mission statement, but remember: your mission statement is a phrase guiding and defining your nonprofit, whereas your vision statement articulates an ultimate goal of your nonprofit. 

So far, the average vision statement is roughly 15 words, but it doesn’t have to be this long. In fact, some of the most powerful visions statements are between 5 and 7 words! Below are a few strong examples of SUPER concise vision statements: 

  • Feeding America: A hunger-free America (4 words) 

  • Oxfam: a just world without poverty (5 words) 

  • TED Talks: Make great ideas accessible and spark conversation. (7 words)

  • The Nature Conservancy: To leave a sustainable world for future generations. (8 words) 

If you are struggling to encapsulate your vision statement in a few words, fear not! Below are examples of less concise, but highly effective vision statements: 

  • Teach for America: One day, all children in this nation will have the opportunity to attain an excellent education. (16 words)
  • Clinton Foundation: To implement sustainable programs that improve access worldwide to investment, opportunity, and lifesaving services now and for future generations. (19 words)
  • The Trevor Project: a future where the possibilities, opportunities, and dreams are the same for all youth, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. (21 words) 

Making it inspiring

We all know what it feels like to be inspired: our heart drops a little, we get chills down our arms, and we nod our heads in agreement. The powerful force of inspirational vision statements, when harnessed properly, can motivate followers to make that dream a reality. 

Now writing inspirational vision statements is no easy task. To make it easier, here are some tips to consider: 

Return to your mission statement

Your mission statement is the foundation from which your vision statement will spring from. While it’s best to use separate language, it’s key that your vision statement is grounded in the original mission’s ideas.  

Revisit testimonies of those who have benefitted from your nonprofit

There’s nothing as touching as the stories of those whose lives have transformed as a result of your nonprofit. Revisit their testimonials harness their passion into your vision statement. The raw inspiration from their unique experiences will function effectively into writing your vision statement. 

Utilize pathos

Pathos, a rhetorical device appealing to emotions, is designed to pull on the audience’s heartstrings for a given cause. This strategy has been proven instrumental in nonprofit marketing and fundraising. Why not utilize it in your vision statement? It surely will add a pop of inspiration to it!

Final Thoughts

In this digital age, nonprofits have the opportunity to reach widespread audiences. But getting their help is another story. Once the marketing strategies have pulled them in, your vision statement can help them sign on board and continue coming back to help. By keeping your vision statement concise and inspirational, your nonprofit can help make that dream a reality. 

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Lauren Uhl

Lauren Uhl

Lauren Uhl is a copywriter at Elevation, a full-service nonprofit web design agency. Lauren earned her B.A. in English Literature, Secondary Education, and Philosophy from Gonzaga University and is currently studying for her M.Ed. at the University of Portland. Lauren believes writing can change the world: that’s why she teaches middle schoolers Language Arts and History through a social justice lens. She aspires to earn her PhD in English, teach at the college level, and continue facilitating courageous conversations. More than anything, she hopes that she can find the right words when people need it the most.

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