Why Your Nonprofit Mission Statement Is Important
Telling a story.
On its most basic level, a Mission Statement is one of the most indispensable tools in your nonprofit arsenal. It serves to tell donors about who you are and what you do before making the decision to contribute. Today's donors aren't going to just give their money freely. The growth of the online world, though with its advantages, has also created a donor base that is more suspicious about giving their money to identities online. Your Mission Statement is meant to enlighten donors and provide them with confidence in their contribution.
So why is your Mission Statement so important?
Because it does five important things for your nonprofit branding:
Attracts: As a large part of your branding campaign, your nonprofit logo has already done some of the work of bringing people through your doors. Once there your Mission Statement is what should meet people in the lobby and ultimately convince them to take a look around your nonprofit. Your Mission Statement will be what draws potential donors in further past the lobby.
Informs: Once your donors have made it past the lobby, you have to show them around. Your Mission Statement is meant to communicate the identity of your nonprofit: your cause/mission/purpose, the people you serve, how you are fulfilling you mission, and the principles your organization upholds.
Focuses: As donors continue to take their tour of your nonprofit (whether this is done through your website, face to face, or through other venues), they should immediately recognize said principles being put to action through your staff, volunteers, and other donors. Your Mission Statement is a guide for your nonprofit; a reminder of your goals and the actions/promises you have made to forward that cause.
Mobilizes: When the tour ends and donors are finished reading your Mission Statement and learning more about your nonprofit, if you Mission Statement has done its job, donors will be inspired to donate and show their support for your cause.
First: Use some of these questions to guide your thinking.
• Why does your nonprofit exist? What is its objective/purpose?
• What is the problem you're trying to solve, the need you're trying to fulfill?
• What is the work you do? What actions are taking to solve the problem, help, or fulfill a need?
• Who are you serving? Who are you trying to help? Who is your nonprofit for?
• Where is your nonprofit centered? How far is your reach? Where is your nonprofit sending help, supplies, etc.?
• What is the desired result of your nonprofit's actions? Your ultimate goal?
Second: Consider your audience.
Determine who your Mission Statement is being written for: their location, financial status, gender, employment, etc. This will influence the kind of language and wording you will use. Establishing and recognizing your audience will make it easier to compose a Mission Statement that will tap into the emotions of your donors.
What is a Mission Statement made of?
No matter the size of the nonprofit, every one of their Mission Statements typically have the same three elements:
3. Results/ End Goals
Let's deconstruct a few.
Like all projects your nonprofit will take on during its marketing campaign, doing your research is one of the most important steps to take. Reading other nonprofits' Mission Statements and learning to break them down using the three elements above will help you understand the structure of the Mission Statement and how to identify those elements when you start composing your own. A useful exercise is shown below, where we have taken three Mission Statements from three different nonprofits and deconstructed them using the three elements.
Homeboy Industries "Jobs not Jails: Homeboy Industries assists at-risk and formerly gang-involved youth to become positive and contributing members of society through job placement, training and education."
Cause/Purpose/Mission: "at-risk and formerly gang-involved youth" Action: "job placement, training and education"Result: "become positive and contributing members of society"
Human Society of the United States"To create a human and sustainable world for all animals, including people, through education, advocacy, and the promotion of respect and compassion"
Cause/Purpose/Mission: "all animals, including people" Action: "through education, advocacy, and the promotion of respect and compassion" Result: "create a humane and sustainable world"
Your Mission Statement is an integral part of your branding campaign in helping donors get to know you better. If you need a few pointers or want to learn more, be sure to move on and read our article on writing one, using what we call our 4-Ingredient Mission Statement.