The mission statement defines the organisation’s core aims, and what it hopes to change and achieve. A good mission statement demonstrates vision, clarity and relevance, as well as being tangibly in use and subject to review. There may be also measures in place to protect the organisation from mission drift.
The mission statement encapsulates the organisation’s vision. It is not simply a summary of its activities, nor (in the case of a charity) its legal objects. Instead it looks to the difference the organisation seeks to make, and the purpose of its activities (beyond making a profit in the case of a for-profit company).
The mission clearly establishes the organisation’s area of focus, the people it seeks to help, and its approach to the problem. It is explicit and specific, giving concrete direction to the organisation as to what it does and does not do.
The mission is valid and meaningful in relation to the problem, and to the activities, outputs and outcomes the organisation pursues.
- in use
Staff, volunteers, and trustees are aware of the mission and are guided by it. It runs throughout the impact plan and gives direction to medium and long-term strategy. The mission is articulated to funders, investors and the public.
- reviewed regularly
The mission statement is reviewed regularly (e.g. annually) to ensure it remains relevant and representative as the organisation develops. (If the mission statement is fixed, e.g. in the organisation’s constitution, it may be less open to review, though its meaning and application will continue to be.)
- protection from mission drift
The mission and its primacy is embedded within the organisation — for example within its governance structures or governing documents. This may be particularly relevant for organisations formed as for-profit companies, and with a potential tension between revenue maximisation and the generation of social benefit.