Tips on Developing Your Mission Statement: Your Cornerstone Story

Your mission statement is often the briefest component of your Case for Support.  But its size shouldn’t dictate the time invested in getting it right.  In fact, if written with clarity and depth of meaning, it should be the most concise, powerful story in your narrative toolkit: the cornerstone for all organizational and communication activities.

There are lots of great tools to help you craft your mission statement.  The one I recommend is a ‘values-based’ approach.    After all, the work of your organization should be your ‘Mission In Action

This brief outline provides a few questions you can use to flex those creative muscles to review, or develop, your mission statement. First, let’s consider the role of a values-based mission statement:

  1. Declaration of the values of an organization – the reason why it exists today – not simply ‘what it does’.  
  2. Description of the path to be taken to arrive at your stated future vision – a world where the organization is successfully achieving its stated goals (or, in some cases – the role of the organization may be redundant as mission is fully realized). 

Following the KISS method, the mission statement could contain as few as two sentences:

  1. We (your organization) believes… (values/philosophical beliefs that inform the work of the organization).  THEREFORE…
  2. (Your organization) raises and manages funds to (e.g. provide/supplement/maintain, etc.)

Some people think that if you cover what the organization does, then the values are implicit.  But why run the risk of leaving this open to interpretation?  Much easier to have potential funders and supporters know immediately why you do what you do.  We all know that successful fundraising is based on a platform of shared beliefs and values between the donor and the mission – so by articulating your mission – you can bring clarity to all decision-making by volunteers, staff, prospects and donors.

Some Key Questions to help you develop a ‘values-based’ mission statement.  

A few questions designed to help you discover/uncover and focus on the key building blocks for your mission statement. 

  1.  What aspect of a ‘civil society’ is the central reason your organization was established?   (These are the values/beliefs that your organization upholds.) TIP: try starting this sentence with the words, We believe…
  2. Now, describe the particular challenge that stands in the way of realizing the above statement. Or, perhaps it’s an opportunity that your organization can take advantage of to realize the above statement.  
  3. State what your organization can/will do (through the raising and managing of funds) to address the conditions described in 2.

Now, spend some reviewing these ‘building blocks’ then start compiling your mission statement.

Here are a couple of examples.

We believe our town’s natural history and cultural heritage should be preserved and interpreted to celebrate and educate current and future generations.  (THEREFORE) The Deep Cove Heritage Society raises and manages funds to maintain state-of-the-art facilities, exhibits, and programming that engages visitors of all ages. 

Global Hope Foundation believes that wherever people are suffering, compassion and hope can help them endure. (THEREFORE)  We raise funds to mobilize people and resources to meet the needs of suffering people in a hurting world.  This is achieved through a variety of programs including disaster relief and agricultural, educational, medical and economic assistance. 


About Norma Cameron, CFRE

Norma Cameron is owner and principal of The Narrative Company, formed in 2006 to help people and organizations understand and apply the “power of story”. Prior to this, Norma had over 20 years’ experience in communications, fundraising, organizational development, performance storytelling, public speaking and training. As an engaging keynote speaker and seminar leader, she works with public, private and non-profit sector clients. As a seasoned storyteller, she has performed at conferences, concerts and festivals across Canada and the UK.
This entry was posted in Fundraising, Narrative Philanthropy, Norma Cameron, Organizational Storytelling and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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