Your nonprofit’s mission and vision statements are essential elements of your strategic planning process. The distinction is subtle but important. Your mission statement is the bare-bones proclamation of what your organization does and why you exist while your vision statement describes how the world would look if you completed your mission. 

How to create your nonprofit vision statement:

You can check out our full guide to writing a nonprofit vision statement, but here are a few good tips. In order to create your nonprofit vision statement, you must keep in mind a few general rules that  a good vision statement should follow.

First of all, your vision statement should be short and to the point, carefully choosing each word to entail exactly what your organization’s future goals are. In fact, good vision statements are usually between 5-20 words and shouldn’t be longer than 25. By using simple and concrete language and avoiding buzzwords, your vision statement will be clear and easy to remember.  

For the actual content aspect of writing your vision statement, you should ask yourself a few questions first. What is the issue that your nonprofit addresses? What would the world look like if this problem was solved? Do you have a timeline for when you would like to meet your goals?

With these questions in mind, you will be able to have a clearer picture of what your vision statement should entail, including only the words that contribute to your vision for your organization.

The Biggest Mistakes

As we compiled our list of over 150 organizations' vision statements, these were the most common mistakes we found: 

  • Your vision statement is actually your mission statement. It's easy to get these confused. Make sure that your vision statement is more of a visual of what the world would look like if you completed your mission, and not what the steps you're going to take to get there
  • It's too long. A vision statement that's longer than 20 words is probably too long. If you have many specific goals for the world, what is your one common goal? If they can't be connected, choose a one sentence vision statement, but then include more in a short paragraph or list following. 
  • It's not specific. If your organization is working to end bullying, a vision statement of, "A better world for children," is not enough. While the sentiment is nice, use specific words that relate to your cause: "A world without bullying." Try descriptive language to make the impact stronger: "A world where children are free to be themselves." 
ads image

Importance of a Brand Style Guide for Growing Your Nonprofit

20 Effective Vision Statements

An effective vision statement is inspirational and aspirational. It creates a mental image of the future state that the organization wishes to achieve. It should challenge and inspire employees to work towards achieving your goals. Here we have listed our favorite 20 nonprofit vision statements so that you can find inspiration for your own nonprofit!

A humane society.

Word count: 3

The Humane Society

 

A world without Alzheimer's disease.*

Word count: 5
Alzheimer's Association

 

Create a world where no child goes to bed hungry.

Word count: 10
Feed the Children

 

A world where everyone has a decent place to live.

Word count: 10
Habitat for Humanity

 

A nation in which everyone can get the healthcare they need.

Word count: 11

PAN Foundation

 

Building a future in which people live in harmony with nature.*

Word count: 11

WWF

 

A world in which all people have pathways to health and opportunity.

Word count: 12

Americares

 

Provide an unparalleled experience as the most trusted partner for health care.

Word count: 12

Mayo Clinic

 

All Christians around the world united in overcoming material and spiritual poverty.

Word count: 12

Cross International

 

To make our oceans as rich, healthy, and abundant as they once were.

Word count: 13

Oceana

 

A world in which every child attains the right to survival, protection, development and participation.

Word count: 15

Save the Children

 

One day, all children in this nation will have the opportunity to attain an excellent education.

Word count: 16

Teach for America

 

A world free of debilitating diseases where all people are protected by strong public health systems.

Word count: 16

The Task Force for Global Health

 

The United States is a humane community in which all animals are treated with respect and kindness.

Word count:17

ASPCA

 

Our vision for every child, life in all its fullness.
Our prayer for every heart, the will to make it so.

Word count: 21

World Vision

 

A world of hope, tolerance and social justice, where poverty has been overcome and all people live in dignity and security.

Word count:21

CARE International

 

Every person has the opportunity to achieve his/her fullest potential and participate in and contribute to all aspects of life.

Word count: 121

Goodwill

 

A world where lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people are ensured equality and embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.

Word count: 28

Human Right's Campaign

 

A world where the diversity of life thrives, and people act to conserve nature for its own sake and its ability to fulfill our needs and enrich our lives.

Word count: 29

The Nature Conservatory

 

Building a world where all communities have full access to innovative, high-quality, affordable, evidence-based sexual and reproductive health services, which will always include abortion, whenever, wherever, and however they are needed.

Word count: 31

Planned Parenthood of New York City

 

How our list was compiled:

  • Over 150 organizations were evaluated, and the top 20  were published.
  • The vision statements are listed by word count. While we feel like an appropriate number of words is around 20, the more specific the goal, the more words may be required.
  • In order to standardize the list, we removed things like “[Brand’s] vision is” or “The vision statement of [Brand]” when it created redundancy in the beginning of a vision statement.
  • All data was collected as of July 2019.


* Many organizations fighting one specific disease or issue have a vision for "A world without ...". We love this vision statement for it's clarity and simplicity. However, for the purpose of this article, we only chose one health organization that features this phrasing to provide variability within our results. 

** WWF's vision statement was derived from their mission statement. 


This post updates an earlier version by Sara Lowe published in 2017.