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Every organization has a mission statement, but what exactly does it mean? Is it similar to a business plan, a vision statement, or a list of goals?

At its core, a mission statement outlines why the organization exists and why it does what it does. It is a one sentence statement describing the motivation that determines the non-profits priorities and actions. A good mission statement is short, concise and informative.

Mission statements and vision statements are often confused or grouped together.

A mission statement describes how you will achieve your overarching goal, whereas a vision statement describes that specified end goal. A mission statement focuses on the present, defining the purpose and primary objectives of the organization, but a vision statement focuses on the future, discussing both the goals and values of the organization.

In a nutshell, a mission statement answers the question, “What do we do and what makes us unique?” while a vision statement answers the question, “Where do we aspire to be?”

Here are examples of mission statements from some of the top non-profit organizations in the world. (Note: notice how concise and informative they are?)


TED

 

CARE logo

To serve individuals and families in the poorest communities in the world.

 

smithsonian

The increase and diffusion of knowledge.

oxfam

To create lasting solutions to poverty, hunger, and social injustice.

livestrong
To inspire and empower people affected by cancer.

 

invisible children

To bring a permanent end to LRA atrocities.

hsus

Celebrating Animals, Confronting Cruelty.

 

best friends
A better world through kindness to animals.

Powering the world to do well by doing good.