Mission Statement

The guiding star for any social venture is its mission statement. Through a well-written, concise, agreed upon mission statement, an organization can make decisions on a day to day basis that keep the long term vision in sight. Too many mission statements are very broad, extremely generic, and hardly actionable. A new trend that is developing in writing mission statements is adding more clarity and action oriented words that provide a better sense of what in specific an organization is trying to do.

What Makes a Good Mission Statement?

Concise: Good mission statements state exactly what an organization believes, no more and no less. It is as simple as possible and no simpler.

Action Oriented: Knowing what an organization is intending to do, and making sure that said actions are measurable and can be accounted for. It doesn't need to be extremely specific, as implementation strategies tend to change, but something that says the end goal in actionable steps.

Attainable: While the end goal could be to "eliminate poverty", that in itself is too broad and may take more than what any one organization can do, so making it something that can be achieved by the organization is paramount. Changing the previous example to "eliminate poverty in the Bronx by 2020" is much better.

Time Bound: Creating a deadline allows organizations to adjust their expectations so that they are more realistic in setting goals, as well as being able to calculate how they are going to achieve those goals on a week by week or quarter by quarter basis.

Value Driven: Every social venture is driven by some system of values that rectifies a wrong it sees in the world. As such, being able to distill which values are most important and how they related to the end goal is very important.

Result Oriented: What will the world look like once you've achieved your mission? This is the reason why your organization exists, and how you intent to achieve it is the other four characteristics mentioned above.

How Do I Make a Good Mission Statement?

  1. Welcome All Perspectives - Everyone should believe in and feel the mission statement. By allowing everyone on the team to take part, everyone feels some ownership and connection to the mission.
  2. Brainstorm Where The Organization Will Be X Years Out - This will show where the common ground is between individuals and allows for a great starting point in determining which direction people want to see the social venture taken.
  3. Don't Rush The Process - Letting the mission develop over time is good, especially in a rapidly growing organization. While one does want to be wary of mission drift and taking on too many things at once, spending enough time early on will ensure a good fit with the mission and how everyone is working to achieve it.
  4. Be Concise - Write only what you need and make sure the mission statement, especially in its rough draft, doesn't get too long. The idea of a mission statement is to be short enough to be easily remembered and strong enough to inspire.
  5. Review Often - By reviewing the mission statement often, individuals can remain connected to it, which will ensure that everyday tasks are continually building towards the value driven end.

Conclusion

Writing and reviewing a mission statement can and should be a very rewarding expererience for every social venture. By detailing what the organization wants to accomplish, how it will achieve the goal, and an idea of what actions need to be taken to get to the end result, a social enterprise sets itself up so that every individual in the organization should be both inspired and motivated by the mission statement and work towards that mission each and every day.

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