A couple of weeks back, I posted on having taught at Boston University, and one of the classes was focused on finding good nonprofits to give to. One of their criteria was finding the best mission statement, and they asked me for some criteria. Since that class, I have coincidentally had a number of emails from other organizations asking basically the same question.
Here's my drill on this:
1. Less is more. The mission statement is an identifier, an "elevator message" and a motivator. You have to be able to convey what you do quickly to people to make your organization stand out. In an era with short attention spans, this has to be done quickly. If your mission statement is three pages long, or has 20 adjectives, it does nothing but bore. Think short.
2. First Vision, then Mission, then Values. One way to shorten many mission statements is to attend to the vision-mission-values sequence and to keep them separate. Vision is how you would like the world to look. Mission is what your organization does to help realize that vision, and values is how you do it (with respect, dignity, etc.). Many organizations put all three in their mission statement, insuring that they violate rule 1 above.
3. Use the mission everywhere. Once you focus and refine your mission statement, use it everywhere: in meetings, on paper, on your website, everywhere. Talk about it constantly. Make it an integral tool in decision making, budgeting, prioritizing, and planning. Remember, the mission is the reason your organization exists---so make it central to everything you do.
What's the best mission? It depends, but here's a great list of Best Charity Mission Statements from Seekler.com
If you want to add to this list, just click on it......