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Why Your Nonprofit Organization Needs a Mission Statement

The mission statement is a nonprofit organization's center of being. Mission statements help give human energy direction. Having one also gives your organization purpose and motivation.

Can organizations operate without good mission statements? Yes, and some do. And some nonprofits out there may not have looked at their mission statements since the Clinton administration — and still doing good things. But social and environmental conditions have changed since the 1990s, and organizations have likely adapted to those changes.

An organization's chances of success in making that adaptation are better if the nonprofit and the people associated with it know exactly why the organization exists; what they're trying to do; and how they're going to do it.

A mission statement should state

  • The organization's purpose.

  • How the purpose will be achieved.

  • Who will benefit from the organization's activities.

The mission statement may also include organizational values and vision. In addition, the mission should be

  • Memorable: You want to carry it around with you at all times.

  • Focused: You want it to be narrow enough to focus the activities of your organization but broad enough to allow for growth and expansion.

  • Easy to read: Your statement should be written in plain language so folks don't need a set of footnotes to decipher it. Be sure to limit your use of adjectives and try to avoid jargon.

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