This post updates a 2017 post by Sara Lowe.
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 here, 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" is not quite what you need. While the sentiment is nice, use more descriptive words that relate to your cause: A world without bullying. If your cause is even more specific, try A world where children are free to be themselves.
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.
A world without Alzheimer's disease.
Create a world where no child goes to bed hungry.
A world where everyone has a decent place to live.
A nation in which everyone can get the healthcare they need.
Building a future in which people live in harmony with nature.
A world in which all people have pathways to health and opportunity.
Provide an unparalleled experience as the most trusted partner for health care.
All Christians around the world united in overcoming material and spiritual poverty.
To make our oceans as rich, healthy, and abundant as they once were.
A world in which every child attains the right to survival, protection, development and participation.
One day, all children in this nation will have the opportunity to attain an excellent education.
A world free of debilitating diseases where all people are protected by strong public health systems.
The United States is a humane community in which all animals are treated with respect and kindness.
Our vision for every child, life in all its fullness.
Our prayer for every heart, the will to make it so.
A world of hope, tolerance and social justice, where poverty has been overcome and all people live in dignity and security.
Every person has the opportunity to achieve his/her fullest potential and participate in and contribute to all aspects of life.
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.
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.
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.
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.