posted September 1, 2015

What Goes into a Mission Statement Anyway?

by Eugene Park, CPA, Audit Manager

Does your mission statement include a cause? Does your mission statement say what you will be doing and the impact that it will have? Does your mission statement resonate with people to provide you with the necessities to carry out your mission?

The following are some examples of mission statements of some very well-known nonprofit organizations:

  • TED: “Spreading Ideas”
  • “USO lifts the spirits of America’s troops and their families”
  • Livestrong: “To inspire and empower people affected by cancer.”
  • The Humane Society: “Celebrating Animals, Confronting Cruelty”
  • Make-A-Wish: “We grant the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions to enrich the human experience with hope, strength and joy.”

Do you see a common theme among them? Isn’t it interesting that an organization with a clear, memorable and concise mission statement would last this long and be that well-known. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. Library of Medicine, the average attention span for a human being in 2013 was approximately 8 seconds. The same study also indicated that the attention span of a goldfish was now longer than a human being's by 1 second. Does your mission statement catch someone’s attention in 8 seconds? Consider the following to help in developing or revising your mission statement:

  • Say it out loud and see if it’s easy to say.
  • Tell someone your mission statement, wait a few minutes and see if they can repeat your mission back to you.
  • Ask the opinion of others and be open to any and all criticism and edit as necessary. If you find yourself defending and arguing your mission statement, it’s highly likely that it may not work.
  • Search for it online. Are there other organizations with similar visions? Make it unique!

Finally, in the forever changing world we live in, review and revise your mission statement as necessary until it expresses your organization's identity and provides focus for the future. 

The content of these pages is for general information purposes only and does not constitute advice. Heinfeld, Meech & Co., P.C. tries to provide content that is true and accurate as of the date of writing; however, we give no assurance or warranty regarding the accuracy, timeliness, or applicability of any of the contents.