Updating your organization’s mission statement is important, mundane, rewarding, and painful all at the same time. Fitting everything an organization does into one short sentence is hard enough by yourself, much less with the other people in your organization.
Refreshing a mission statement helps an organization remain dynamic and relevant to the community it is working in. Aurora often works on mission statements with our clients. These are the resources we use to help organizations understand, assess, and update their mission statements.
A mission statement is a one-sentence statement describing the reason an organization exists. A mission is required for nonprofit organizations and is used to justify the nonprofit’s tax-free status and guide decisions about organizational actions, priorities, and responsibilities. It should also inspire others and create enthusiasm and excitement for your organization’s work. A good mission statement answers two questions:
- What good?
- For whom?
What is the good that your organization is creating? The best mission statements describe the result of your organization’s work – the benefit of what you do, the “why” of your organization – and avoid merely describing what your organization does.
Who benefits from your work? A mission statement names your primary beneficiary. Often, organizations find it hard to name one group of beneficiaries. Think outside of your own categories and identify the common thread that ties your beneficiaries together. The common thread may be a shared concern, a shared experience, or simply a shared community or region you work in, but naming your beneficiary in your mission statement takes the focus away from you as an organization, and places it on the good that you are creating for others.
Reviewing your mission
In addition to answering What good? and For Whom? A useful mission statement is clear, focused, descriptive, accurate, and plausible.
Use the attached worksheet and rubric to begin assessing your current mission statement.
We worked with the Minnesota Alliance on Crime to update their mission statement. We focused on the what good and for whom of their organization and cleaned up the rest of the statement. See the before and after below.
Before: The mission of the Minnesota Alliance on Crime is to provide a statewide coalition for crime victim service programs while working to improve response to victims of crime in MN through education, resources, and legislation.
After: Minnesota Alliance on Crime connects systems, service providers and victims to advance the response for victims of all crime.
See our list of mission and vision statement examples for more inspiration.