How to write your charity mission statement

Your mission statement is a fundamental asset that should influence every part of your non-profit organisation – from your comms to the attitude of your volunteers. That's why creating an effective charity mission statement is critical, particularly during periods of uncertainty.

It's not easy. You'll need to involve everyone in your organisation (including beneficiaries), be receptive to their feedback, and incorporate it into one concise piece of copy. It's as much a creative task as it is one of collaboration and management.

As charities face continued uncertainty, operational challenges and the prospect of adapting to the ‘new normal’, crafting a clear purpose or mission statement for your non-profit has never been more important. To help you do that, Beth Clarke, Programme Manager at CAF, shares her advice on nailing your charity mission statement.

Why should charities have their mission statement front and centre?

  • Video transcript
    Why should charities have their mission statement front and center of their communications?

    Ideally your mission should inspire people, but try not to worry too much about that while you're writing it because it should be expressed very simply. But people should be able to read it and think, ‘yes that’s absolutely something that I can get on board with, I see the value in this.’

    You will want your mission also to be something that a person who doesn't know you at all can read and understand what you do and why. 

    If it’s too vague, if you try to include too many of your values, if you try to explain in detail a list of your activities, you lose people. So, it should be one or two sentences max that really clearly explains who you are and what you do.


Is a charity mission different to a statement and does it matter?

  • Video transcript

    Is a charity mission different to a statement and does it matter?

    A mission and a purpose are really clearly linked. Some people have a separate mission statement and a separate purpose. You could argue that your mission is what you are doing and for who and that your purpose is why you are doing it and why you exist.

    You often see a mission statement that really includes a little bit of both. I don’t think it matters massively and you may want to split them out. There can be value in doing that if you have a mission statement that - whether implicitly or explicitly - says what your purpose is and why you exist, I don't think that matters either way

    I think it's fine whichever you want, so long a you're able to communicate clearly with people who don't know who you, why you are there and what you are doing

    It doesn't have to include all your strategic plan; it just has to give the broad outline of what you’re up to, and why, for whom.


How should you write your charity mission statement?

  • Video transcript
    How should you write your charity mission statement?

    In order to write your mission statement you should absolutely be including everyone involved in the organisation and all of your stakeholders. You'll want to start by not just having your staff involved but also your trustee board and those who are benefiting from your service - whether that’s the people that you serve or those who are affected by the environment that you're working to support. 

    It’s a really good idea to get everybody involved. People will have slightly different views of what they think it is. It's really helpful to make sure everyone’s on the same page. People will have really good ways of expressing it that you may not have thought of.

    However I would really advise that one person and one person only takes all those ideas away and does the wordsmithing and then sends it out for feedback.

    In terms of where your mission statement should live, asbolustly it should be on your website. You may well want to have it on documents you send out etcetera, etcetera. 

    But the most important thing is that your mission is felt, held and owned by the people who are delivering it. The mission statement is not meant to be something that exists on a shelf or is up on all of your walls but doesn’t exist in terms of how people work.

    The most important thing about your mission is that it is owned and understood by everybody who works there, and by your volunteers. If the staff don’t see how their role links into the mission that’s a big issue.



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