How To Make a Mission Statement that Matters



“A man with money is no match against a man on a mission.” — Doyle Brunson

A mission is an organization’s core reason for existing.

The mission is a declaration of the core purpose and focus.  Some think of a mission as a calling.

In A Simple Statement: A Guide to Nonprofit Arts Management and Leadership, Jamie Grady shares what he’s learned about mission statements over the years.

Key Takeaways

Here are my key takeaways:

  • Use your mission statement to gauge your success.  The biggest thing for me here is that the mission statement acts as a gauge for success.
  • Keep mission statements simple.  I’m a fan of simple, repeatable mission statements over elaborate or verbose ones.
  • Make it a group thing to get skin in the game.  I like the point on getting skin in the game by using a group process for the mission statement.

What Is a Mission Statement

A mission statement is about who you are as an organization: your philosophy, beliefs, values, and principles.

Grady writes:

  • A mission statement is a single sentence or short paragraph that states
    the company’s central philosophy, beliefs, values, and principles.
  • It clarifies the work of the organization.
  • It needs to be the single device with which a company measures its success.

The Keys to an Effective Mission Statement

There are several keys to an effective mission statement.  A quick test is whether it stands out and creates buzz.

Grady writes:

  • It should be recognizable, unique, exciting, and inspiring.
  • It is a simple expression of why the organization was created and what it will accomplish.
  • Individuals who are not familiar with the organization should be able to quickly and accurately understand its purpose by reading the mission statement.
  • Mission statements should be powerful and compelling in order to bring people together to work toward a common goal. A compelling sense of purpose brings people together to achieve great goals.
  • If an organization wants every action to be based upon its mission statement, it should create a statement that can be easily memorized.
  • A mission statement needs to be brief in order for it to be easily placed in the minds of those who need it most – organizations, employees, patrons, donors, and vendors.
  • As with any important declaration, it is vital to allow time for revision and discussion about the statement’s appropriateness and effectiveness.

Create the Mission Statement Together

Co-create the mission statement with your group.  This helps create buy-in right from the start.

Grady writes:

“The creation of the mission statement can be completed by one person or a core group.

Usually the statement will be more effective, powerful, and embraced if it is formed by a small group of people rather than a single person.

If the mission statement is developed through a successful group process, each member of that group will have a personal stake in the success of the mission and that of the organization.

The more people working toward a focused purpose, and sharing that focus, the greater chance they will have in accomplishing that purpose.”

Additional Resources

Man on a Mission – a blog dedicated to mission statements.

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  1. I’m a vice president of a startup company. I find it’s pretty difficult for me to balance between the founder and the team when creating the mission statement. The mission should reflect the founder’s dream. But it also need to be instructive for the team.

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