Writing and Reviewing 3 Core Documents

How hard could it be to write the 2- or 3-sentence descriptions of your organization known as the vision, mission and values statements? Despite their relative brevity, these statements can take a substantial amount of effort from not-for-profit boards. 

That's because, if they are done well, vision, mission and values statements will reflect the heart and soul of the organization, capturing its very essence and guiding every decision the board makes.

Often, the process of crafting these statements is nearly as valuable as the statements themselves. 

The writing process helps the board focus its energy and clarify its purpose. In addition, well-written vision, mission and values statements can motivate staff and other stakeholders, help bring public attention and resources to the organization and help it obtain and maintain tax-exempt status.

After they are written, vision, mission, and values statements don't just belong in a frame on the wall. They must stay front and center in the minds of employees, supporters and board members. In fact, they should be part of every discussion the board has.

Start each board meeting by reviewing all three statements. Have copies on the table. This will set the tone and context for board discussions and allow board members to refer to the statements if they need direction. 

Get in the habit of asking, "How will this decision fit our vision, mission and values?"

Board members have a serious obligation to understand and commit themselves to the organization's vision, mission and values. They must also ensure that all three statements continue to reflect the essence of the organization over time. 

This means revisiting the mission and vision statements periodically to review them in light of internal and external changes and revise them if necessary. 

This review process can be energizing for the board because it offers an opportunity to reflect on whether the organization is achieving what it set out to do

Learn More About It 

Fritz, Joanne. Mission Impossible? How to Write Your Mission Statement. About.com

Gottlieb, Hildy. 2007.  3 Statements That Can Change the World: Mission/Vision/Values. Community Driven Institute.