Meeting as a group to write your mission and vision statements is a great way to get everyone on the same page about the group’s goals and future. A group whose interests have become fractured because there is no collective understanding of the exact group charter is a group that may well fail. We highly recommend making this mission setting project a group activity- from brainstorming to coming to consensus. Having strong mission and vision statements can function to keep the group motivated and unified. It’s something that your group will recur back to often to guide your efforts and keep things focused. Compelling, inspiring mission and vision statements can be used as promotional tools, a way for group members to succinctly let other people know who you are and what you’re about.
The mission statement is the road map
First, let’s clarify the difference between your mission and your vision. Your mission statement is an action-oriented statement that clarifies the groups purpose. The mission is what you do, how you do it, and might include some detail about who you are or who the beneficiaries of your work are. You’ll want it to be relatively specific. For a community action related group, a mission statement example might be something like, “We are a group of moms committed to keeping underage youth from drinking and driving by raising awareness via school assemblies, and by providing no-questions-asked safe rides through our 24-hour hotline.” We know: a. who is in the group b. what they care about and c. two specific ways they create impact. Voila!
The vision is the destination
The vision, on the other hand, is your group’s dream for the future, the reality that you’re working to create. It’s your collective idea of how things might be if you perfectly accomplish your group goals. Using the same hypothetical local mom group, the vision statement might be something like, “we envision a future with no alcohol-related teen driving fatalities” or “we are building a co-parenting community based on compassion and advocacy where ALL teens know that help is one phone call away.”
Both your mission and vision statements should be inspiring and motivational. Think about it like this: they should be broad enough to give you room to grow and to encompass the diversity of perspective within your group, but snappy enough to be memorable and easy to hear. Again, while your mission and vision will be used internally to keep the group on track, they can also be used externally to appeal to non-members. Do you have a homepage that you use to grow your group or plan events? Your mission and vision can be focal points! Want to sell merch to raise funds? A striking and uplifting vision statement could be just the thing to put on a t-shirt or reusable shopping bag, for example.
The key is collaboration
1.Brainstorming and sharing come first
One way to open a mission and vision writing dialogue is to ask the group to consider times when the group has been at its best and doing its best work. What did that look and feel like? If your group is just starting and you don’t have a history to look back on, consider what it will look like for you to be unified around a common goal. What is the overarching intention of your new group? Sharing reflections, stories, and even talking about what hasn’t worked in the past are a few good ways to begin brainstorming.
Have a few volunteers take notes as members share their stories and perspectives.
2. Only after you’ve collected a wealth of ideas will editing start
Next, begin to cullcommon details and overlapping trends from the group shares. Nonprofithub.org has a great story diagramming exercise that can help groups hone in on what is significant enough to make it into the mission statement. Scan the stories for each mention of the group taking direct action, each instance of positive change resulting from the group’s work, and also each time a specific place or person or group is mentioned as a beneficiary of the work.
The group will be putting words to timely and meaningful foundational ideas that you’ll use as you plan for the future. Having everyone sharing their personal reflections and then mixing together all of these perspectives to identify broad patterns is a way that leaders can decenter themselves as authority figures of the group. Also, using this process effectively can help keep people from getting bogged down in unnecessary conflict over semantic debates and specificities that have little effect on the overall product.
Aim to uplift
Here are a few other mission and vision statement examples that we find effective:
Girl Scouts of America mission statement:
Girl Scouting builds girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place.
Heifer International mission and vision statement:
The mission of Heifer International is to end hunger and poverty while caring for the Earth. Heifer does this by providing appropriate livestock, training and related services to small-scale farmers and communities worldwide.
Patagonia mission statement:
“Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.”
Aside from the powerful work that we already know these companies and organizations to do, we like these examples because they’re specific enough to actionable and provable, they’re broad enough to motivate growth, and they just make us FEEL good. The more inspiring you can make your mission and vision statements the more likely they will be to do the heavy lifting when it comes to publicly promoting the good work you know your group is already doing.
The team at Groupeasy