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Write the BEST Nonprofit Mission Statement: 15 Examples + Free Template

Author: Sonia Urlando
July 11, 2023
🕑 12 min read

Establishing your organization’s identity is a key part of the early days of starting a nonprofit. What is your nonprofit all about? What are your goals, and how will you achieve them?

The quickest way to summarize this information? Writing a nonprofit mission statement!

In this post we’ll explore:

  • What a mission statement is and why it matters
  • How to write a nonprofit mission statement
  • Highlights of 15 nonprofit mission statement examples
  • How to use our free template

Let’s get started!

What is a Nonprofit Mission Statement?

A nonprofit mission statement is a brief description of your organization’s purpose, and how you work to achieve it. The best mission statements are typically not much larger than a sentence or two, and are designed to show who you are at a glance!

Nonprofit mission statements show up in your:

Mission statements shouldn’t be confused with vision statements. Where mission statements define why an organization exists, visions express the organization’s ideal state of being.

Click through to claim your 60-day trial of WildApricot to create effective QR codes that will speed up event check-in.

Why Are Mission Statements Important for Nonprofits?

Mission statements are important for nonprofits because they help:

  • Define your purpose. When you’re first setting up your nonprofit business plan, you’re choosing a direction for your organization. There are many different ways to support a cause—a mission statement defines the angle you’re operating from.
  • Inform decision-making. Your mission statement serves as a touchstone for the major decisions your organization is presented with. If an opportunity won’t further your mission as it’s defined in the statement, then it might be one to skip out on.
  • Motivate staff, volunteers and board members. A powerful, energizing nonprofit mission statement keeps your team motivated through all the ups and downs. Every time someone questions if their work matters, your mission statement will assure them that it does!
  • Inspire the public and potential new supporters. Many small nonprofit organizations get started without much in the bank. A great nonprofit mission statement can be the key to a fundraising boost—if people are inspired by a powerful mission, they’re more likely to support you!

Even though a mission statement is a single brief sentence, it can have a major long term impact for your nonprofit!

So you might be wondering…

What Makes a Strong Nonprofit Mission Statement?

When you’re writing a nonprofit mission statement, be sure that it is:

  • Clear. Plain language, varying word lengths and correct grammar and punctuation will make for a smoother reading experience for prospective supporters.
  • Brief. The best nonprofit mission statements are typically about 15-20 words. Some even begin with the word “to” in order to save some words at the start!
  • Active. Write in the active voice, and make sure your language makes it sound like your work is already in progress! Saying “we help people” rather than “we will help people” makes the impact sound more real.
  • Emotive. Use language that calls to the unique emotional experience of your organization. Do you inspire? Do you provide comfort? Keep it true and relevant!
  • Accurate. Your nonprofit mission statement should reflect what you are actively doing as an organization. Look at your current programs, activities and impact and draft a mission statement that reflects them honestly.
  • Up to date. If you find that your nonprofit’s mission is evolving, shift your statement to reflect that change. This also applies to any numbers that are in your statement—if you were serving 100s of people and are not serving 1000s, that’s an important update!

The best mission statements aren’t overly complicated. Ask yourself two questions: “is it true?” and “does it make sense?” If you get two yeses, that’s a solid start!

How to Write a Mission Statement for a Nonprofit

Now that we’ve gone over what mission statements can do for your organization, here is how to write a nonprofit mission statement in 5 steps:

1. Gather your team

Ask all of your staff members to write down:

  • The purpose of your nonprofit
  • What your nonprofit does
  • Who it’s helping
  • How it makes them feel

Once you have this information, look for the points that overlap. This will help you find the things you all believe and agree on.

2. Tell your story

With this same group of people, reflect on real success stories from your nonprofit. This will give you examples of what your organization looks like at its best, and help you identify patterns that you want to include in your mission statement.

3. Identify values

Just like before, have everyone separately write down values of the organization and search for what comes up repeatedly. If there’s an interesting outlier that makes everyone go “ooh!”, discuss it as a group. This will help you find the sort of emotive language you want to use!

4. Create the elevator pitch

Imagine you’re at a networking event—what’s the fastest, most effective way to show what your organization is all about? Apply that mindset and brainstorm some elevator pitches, and they can easily be distilled into your nonprofit mission statement.

5. Get feedback

Time to test how your mission statement looks! Bring it to your board members and volunteers and see if they feel like the mission statement reflects your nonprofit. If you’re doing a revamp, you can also bring it to current members for discussion.

Bonus: Use AI to brainstorm your mission statement

Using AI tools like ChatGPT can give you some inspiration for your nonprofit mission statement. A query like “write me a 20 word mission statement for a nonprofit” will give you some structural inspiration, and “5 examples of nonprofit mission statements” can show you trends in what other organizations are up to.

Remember: ChatGPT is NOT a search engine, so you should take everything with a grain of salt. Plus, be sure not to just grab the first response you get. This is a brainstorming tool, not a shortcut to a finished product!

What NOT to Do When Writing a Mission Statement

Our template below will give you a clear look at what to do, but here are a couple no-thank-yous to add to your checklist!

Your nonprofit mission statement should not:

  • Be vague. The mission statement isn’t just for any organization—it’s for YOURS! Be sure to define what really makes you special.
  • Use jargon. The more accessible the language, the wider net you can cast for your supporters. Save the jargon for resources in your members’ benefit package.
  • Change frequently. Your mission statement will be used across all of your social media, print and website branding. Frequent changes to this key feature could lead to confusion for supporters and partners.
  • Too long. A nonprofit mission statement isn’t a full manifesto! There’s nothing wrong with writing some extended content on your history and impact, but your mission statement is meant to be simple and clean.
  • Too short. We know we just said not to make a manifesto, but don’t settle for a tagline either! Check out our free template below to get an idea of what basics you need covered.

Nonprofit Mission Statement Template

Looking for some tools for your team to brainstorm a mission statement with?

WildApricot’s free nonprofit mission statement template includes:

  • A brainstorming guide
  • A checklist
  • A couple fill-in-the-blank templates

Click here to download your template and get started on your planning session!

15 Nonprofit Mission Statement Examples

Check out these 15 nonprofit mission statement examples from organizations small and large:

1. American Choral Directors Association

American Choral Directors Association (ACDA) is a nonprofit music-education organization whose expressed purposes outline the association’s dedication to the advancement of choral music.

Mission Statement

“The mission of ACDA is to inspire excellence and nurture lifelong involvement in choral music for everyone through education, performance, composition and advocacy.”

Length: 23 words

Reading Level: Post-graduate

What We Like: The “how” of the ACDA’s mission is clearly laid out in four components. “Inspire” and “nurture” are also two emotive words that tie back to being leaders in the world of music.

2. Muslim Urban Professionals

Muslim Urban Professionals (Muppies) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering and advancing Muslim business professionals.

“Muppies is a global nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering and advancing Muslim professionals to be leaders in their careers and communities.”

Length: 21 words

Reading Level: Grade 13

What We Like: This mission statement succinctly summarizes the scope of the organization, who it serves and to what end. As a nonprofit dedicated to career development, the language itself is confident and professional.

3. The Word on the Street Toronto

The Word On The Street is a national celebration of reading, writing, and literacy. Each year, they host hundreds of author readings for visitors of all ages and a vibrant marketplace featuring the best selection of books and magazines in Canada.

“The Word On The Street champions reading and writing in Canada through a free annual festival and year-round literary programming that celebrates storytelling, ideas, and imagination.”

Length: 26 words

Reading Level: Grade 13

What We Like: Both the individual festival and the year-round elements are clearly and concisely presented. The language is active, and the description “celebrates storytelling, ideas, and imagination” presents an idea of whimsy and joy.

4. American Counseling Association

American Counseling Association (ACA) is a not-for-profit, professional and educational organization that is dedicated to the growth and enhancement of the counseling profession.

“Promote the professional development of counselors, advocate for the profession, and ensure ethical, culturally-inclusive practices that protect those using counseling services.”

Length: 21 words

Reading Level: Post-graduate

What We Like: This mission statement highlights the values of the mission itself: being mindful of ethics and cultural inclusivity. This makes it stand out from other counseling associations, and will attract more progressive members.

5. National Recreation and Park Association

The National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) is the leading not-for-profit organization dedicated to building strong, vibrant and resilient communities through the power of parks and recreation.

“To advance parks, recreation and environmental conservation efforts that enhance the quality of life for all people.”

Length: 17 words

Reading Level: Grade 10

What We Like: Short and simple! This mission statement gets to the point without feeling like a simple tagline. Plus, it demonstrates the organization’s core belief that a healthy and thriving natural environment benefits all people.

6. Zoryan Institute

Zoryan Institute, a non-profit organization, serves the cause of scholarship and public awareness relating to issues of universal human rights, genocide, and diaspora-homeland relations.

“Zoryan Institute’s mission is to promote public awareness relating to issues of human rights, genocide, and diaspora through scholarship.”

Length: 19 words

Reading Level: Grade 12

What We Like: This is another brief but clear mission statement. Its strength is that it highlights scholarship as its meaningful action, making it clear that this is an organization dedicated to promoting public awareness through education.

7. Ascend

Ascend is the largest, non-profit Pan-Asian membership organization for business professionals in North America, with 60,000+ senior executives, professionals, and MBA/undergraduate students.

“We develop, support, and empower Pan-Asians throughout their careers with a network for growth and advancement that enables our members to serve our vibrant communities to the best of their abilities.”

Length: 31 words

Reading Level: Grade 12

What We Like: Using the language “throughout their careers” shows that this association has resources for people of all career stages. Plus, the use of “our vibrant communities” shows pride in the organization and its members—THAT’S how you use emotive language!

8. Jane Alliance Neighbourhood Services

Jane Alliance Neighbourhood Services (JANS), founded in 1999, is a multi-service community based registered charitable organization for newcomers, seniors, youth and women.

“To enhance the social and economic development of disadvantaged groups through community empowerment.”

Length: 13 words

Reading Level: Grade 14

What We Like: This is the shortest example we have on the list. However, JANS uses every word to show that its services are for anyone who is socially marginalized, and ultimately tie back to creating community spaces. Even though it’s short, it’s clear: JANS is a space for all people in need of connection.

9. Stqeeye’ Learning Society

Stqeeye’ is an Indigenous led non-profit organization based on Salt Spring Island, BC in the traditional territory of the Quw’utsun Peoples.

“The mission of the Stqeeye’ Learning Society is the restoration and preservation of lands and waters within Xwaaqw’um (Burgoyne Bay Provincial Park).”

Length: 23 words

Reading Level: Grade 10

What We Like: The Stqeeye’ Learning Society’s nonprofit mission statement centers the Indigenous name of the land, while also including the name that more settlers might be familiar with. This highlights the importance of centering Indigeneity, while also giving settlers an entry point to learning more about the land they occupy.

10. Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals

Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals (OBAP) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the encouragement and advancement of minorities in all aviation and aerospace careers.

“OBAP Inspires Excellence and provides opportunities in aerospace by Supporting, Transforming, Educating, and Mentoring our members and communities.”

Length: 18 words

Reading Level: Grade 16

What We Like: OBAP makes the clever choices to include the STEM acronym in its mission statement! This is a succinct and creatively branded way of laying out the tenets and goals of the organization.

11. Make Music Matter

Make Music Matter is a Canadian nonprofit that helps to heal trauma and empower marginalized individuals and communities with an innovative music therapy program called Healing in Harmony.

“Make Music Matter uses the creative process as a therapeutic tool to help empower marginalized individuals and communities.”

Length: 18 words

Reading Level: Grade 11

What We Like: Make Music Matter uses active language that highlights creativity as therapy. By following up with “marginalized individuals and communities”, readers can understand that this nonprofit offers both individual supports and full community programming.

12. Stars Piggly Wigglys Sanctuary Foundation

Star’s Piggly Wigglys Sanctuary Foundation has been in operation since 2013. We save lives of unwanted, mistreated, abandoned farm animals.

“To promote the welfare of animals for the benefit of the public by rescuing, rehabilitating, and holding for adoption aging, dangerous, unhealthy, abandoned or surrendered animals, and providing a sanctuary for such animals that cannot be adopted.”

Length: 37 words

Reading Level: Grade 14

What We Like: This is the longest nonprofit mission statement of the bunch, created by a smaller, family-owned nonprofit. It lists all the reasons they might take in an animal, and notes that this doesn’t just help the animals, but the public at large!

13. Feeding America

Feeding America is a nonprofit organization that is a nationwide network of more than 200 food banks that feed more than 46 million people through food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters and other community-based agencies.

“Our mission is to advance change in America by ensuring equitable access to nutritious food for all in partnership with food banks, policymakers, supporters, and the communities we serve.”

Length: 29 words

Reading Level: Grade 11

What We Like: Feeding America is one of the largest nonprofits in the world, and its mission statement says a LOT in only 29 words. It tells you what the mission is, how it will complete it and what types of partners are involved in the work.

14. North Shore Volunteers for Seniors

Established in 1961, North Shore Volunteers for Seniors (NSVS), is a non-profit society dedicated to promoting the independence and well-being of Seniors on the North Shore.

“Our mission is to improve the lives of seniors on the North Shore by providing activity, engagement and socialization through programs and services offered in the accessible, homelike atmosphere of our centre.”

Length: 32 words

Reading Level: Grade 12

What We Like: NSVS’s mission statement doesn’t just clearly lay out what the mission is and how it’s being achieved—it also includes an emotional aspect of the language! Noting the importance of an “accessible, homelike atmosphere” shows that this is a nonprofit that prioritizes the comfort and care of its beneficiaries.

15. Alberta Helping Animals Society

AHAS provides no cost veterinary care plus nutrition, behaviour and housing advice to people with very low incomes living in Edmonton, AB.

“Creating opportunities for vulnerable people to access veterinary care and other services for their companion animals.”

Length: 16 words

Reading Level: Grade 13

What We Like: AHAS’s use of the phrase “creating opportunities” is a quick way to show the gap that exists, and the important niche their work is filling. The language also shows that while veterinary care is the primary offering, there are also other important programs involved.

Furthering Your Mission

We hope this has been a helpful guide for writing your nonprofit mission statement. Take some time to enjoy reflecting on your values, goals and successes—that’s the key to finding the heart of your organization!

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