How much time do you spend thinking about your mission statement? Mission statements are intended to communicate the vision and purpose of organizations. That’s an important function, so it deserves some time and thought. Even if your organization already has a mission statement, it’s important to re-visit it periodically to make sure it still reflects your purpose and direction.
Creating your mission statement (or updating it) is as simple as answering some questions about your organization, then conveying these answers in language that is compelling and succinct.
To formulate your mission statement, start by answering these questions:
- What does your organization do to serve your members?
- Who are your ideal members?
- What value do you bring to your members’ lives?
- What differentiates you from other membership-based organizations in your industry?
- What underlying values or philosophies guide the way you work with your members?
- How do you want your staff to interact with members?
Think about whether you want your mission statement to reflect your short- or long-term goals. When focusing short term, you can be more specific. Long-term goals require a more general statement. Think bigger than your day-to-day operations, products, or service offerings. What are the underlying values that drive your decisions and actions?
One of the best things you can do is involve your board, and staff if appropriate, in the process. Have a brainstorming session around the questions above, and distill your discussion down to common themes and key words.
Once you have your top key words and phrases, work on putting them together in a sentence or two. You should be able to convey why your association exists in an inspiring, believable, and relevant way. And you should be able to convey HOW you’ll deliver on your mission. The most effective mission statements aren’t too vague or too specific, and they use simple language. You’ll want to avoid using complex language or industry jargon.
Come up with three or four options, and test them on your staff. Ultimately, the mission statement you choose should be customer-focused, but should also inspire your staff to get behind the cause. You want the words to be powerful enough to evoke emotion …
Who could resist Starbucks’ mission statement: ” To inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time.”