What is a mission statement? And what should mine be?

By Amanda Mizrahi

A mission statement concisely states who your organization is, what it does, who it does this for and where this takes place. These four pieces of information quickly communicate to potential funders, employees, community members, and others the most critical information about your organization. Having an easy to remember mission statement means you, or anyone, will never fumble when trying to effectively communicate about the organization you are trying to represent. This ease of communication can make all the difference in whether or not a potential funder asks a follow-up question, opening a valuable door. If your mission statement is convoluted, unclear and difficult to get out of your mouth, however, then people will generally feel confused and uninterested when they hear you trying to explain what you do.

Amanda Mizrahi

Your mission statement should address each of the four pieces of information as quickly and efficiently as possible. You can build a sentence by filling in the following blanks. (Your organization name) does (what you do, i.e. feeds the hungry, provides educational opportunities, etc.) for (group of people being aided, i.e. the homeless, underprivileged children) in (location where the aid is received). This format easily conveys to an interested party what your organization is, what it does, who it does this for and where these activities are going on. These are the critical logistical aspects of the organization.

If your mission does not fit into that format in three sentences or less, you may need to focus on defining exactly what you do. The exercise of creating a good mission statement could be as valuable as the statement itself – helping you define exactly what your organization is trying to accomplish. Ensuring that your mission is well stated means that those you approach will have an easy time understanding exactly what you do, and this ease means more time can be spent on conveying the emotional aspect of your organization instead of the logistical.