A Brief Guide to Creating a Mission Statement That Is More than a Slogan and Motivates Action


A mission statement, by definition, is a formal summary of your nonprofit’s goals, objectives, and values. But this bland definition doesn’t begin to describe the depth of your nonprofit’s mission or even the importance of creating a mission statement that compels supporters to take action.

As a leader of a nonprofit, your mission isn’t just about being a responsible person who contributes to society and has values. Your mission is a sacrifice.

Unfortunately, I’ve seen a number of problems creep up in regard to creating a mission statement for nonprofits. I’ve witnessed extraordinary nonprofits struggle because…

Oftentimes mission statements are crafted and then set aside, as if they are simply a box to check off when starting a nonprofit. But I want to challenge nonprofits to leverage their mission statements into powerful calls to action so that the result is more than a slogan or one-page document no one ends up reading.

We want your mission statement to be visible within your organization and to the public.

We’re going to get your mission statement working for you. After all, you deserve a statement that packs a punch because there is a lot at stake!

Defining a Mission

A mission is bigger than yourself. A mission is about being an ambassador for what is right, even when the stakes are high. In fact, I’d argue that a mission isn’t complete unless those stakes are high enough that if your nonprofit wasn’t there, humanity would suffer a measurable loss.

In order to motivate action among your supporters and donors, they need to see your nonprofit as a way for them to take part in overcoming the pain in the world and to fulfill their own personal mission.

You can begin to communicate this to them by creating a mission statement that is clear and compelling.

Why Create a Mission Statement That Motivates?

Though mission statements and brand messages are multifaceted, if you can crystalize your mission into a clear and concise statement, it allows you to then branch out to create themes, slogans, impact points, and so much more that are all tethered back to your nonprofit and help you build it as a brand.

A clear and concise mission statement helps your prospective donors see…

… all of which help you reach your impact goals and spread the news of your mission.

Creating a mission statement that is clear and compelling is like creating a springboard from which all other messaging on every platform can bounce from. It can make messaging and content creation so much easier!

Steps to Begin the Creation Process

Step 1. Gathering Information to Create Your Mission Statement

List your objectives. How are you making a tangible difference in the lives of those around you?

What are the top 2 or 3 priority calls to action? I’ve seen several multidimensional organizations struggle with settling on 2 to 3 priorities. They have a number of impactful programs and services that help others, and so it can be difficult to narrow those down to just a couple calls to action. But it’s a crucial step you must take when creating a mission statement that can be used to launch additional messaging and is more than a slogan.

Listen to those involved. If you were to sit quietly in the corner of a coffee shop and listen in on a conversation between 2 people talking about your mission, what would they say? It’s important to be open to hearing how others describe your mission and nonprofit. Then you can fine-tune or begin to shift the messaging so that it matches your objectives and cause more clearly. You’d never be able to align the 2—how your nonprofit is perceived and what your mission is—without listening to others.

Team working together in creating a mission statement.

Step 2. Using Your Strategy to Create Your Mission Statement

Define how and why your organization fights for justice. The strategy and steps your organization takes to fight for justice in this unjust world is the key to motivating others to take action. There is a fundamental “wrong” that your nonprofit can make “right.”

What is that “right”? What is the method you use to overcome the “wrong”?

Seek to understand the pain point of your potential supporters. Prospective donors and supporters are attracted to nonprofits they feel connected to because of a personal experience. Conceptualize what those attraction factors are, as they will be tied to their pain point. Then highlight how your organization helps them address that pain and makes their lives better. 

Step 3. Finding Balance in Your Mission Statement

When carefully crafted, your mission statement has the potential to unite your internal team and communications as well as create a public image for your nonprofit.

Your mission statement should be everywhere your volunteers and workers are in order to remind them of  the things at stake, the way in which they’re helping overcome the pain in the world, and the hope they have in being involved.

The Takeaway

When it’s all said and done, your mission statement should tell a story. Either your donor or those whom you help should be depicted as the hero who can partner with your nonprofit to accomplish their goal to overcome injustice and create a better life for many.

A mission statement should answer the following 3 questions…

To some, creating a mission statement may seem like an insignificant step, but when you change your perspective to how it can be the first step to bigger accomplishments, it suddenly becomes a necessary bridge to build for your nonprofit to reach potential donors and those you serve.  


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Filed Under: Marketing by Industry

About Selah Hirsch

For more than 15 years, Selah Hirsch has worked with organizations committed to making our world a better place. She has been busy helping them get their message to connect to the hearts of their audience, refreshing their brand, and crafting their exceptional story. The result? An increase in their community engagement, donor development, and a presence that strengthens their reputation.

Selah is the founder of Pipelime, a branding agency that equips leaders to more confidently express their brand message.

She lives in Norman, OK, with her husband Michael and their three adorable, zany kids.