3 Mission Statement Mistakes that Nonprofits Make


Guest Post Contributed by: Jack Karako, Founding Principal & Strategist at IMPACTism

Whether your organization is saving puppies and kittens, combating inequality, or improving our environment, you need a mission statement to let people know exactly what it is you’re trying to accomplish.

Sure, supporters might spend thirty minutes looking at the “About” section on your website or flipping through a pamphlet they picked up at a fundraising event, but your mission statement will likely be the first indication individuals have of what your organization does and how you accomplish that vision.

In order to acquire new supporters and keep the ones you have, your nonprofit mission statement will need to meet a few requirements.

Take a look at your organization’s mission statement and make sure you aren’t making any of the following mistakes.


1. Your mission statement is too vague.

Consider the following hypothetical mission statement:

“We Help People.”

This sentence fails to address several questions.

  • What demographic of people is being assisted?
  • How is the nonprofit helping them?
  • What kind of support do they need from volunteers or donors?

This fake mission statement is far too vague to pack any sort of punch. Do they provide after school programs for children in under-developed areas, or do they support cancer research? It’s impossilbe to tell!

Instead, take a look at the Harmony Project’s mission statement:

“Building healthier lives and communities through music.”

This mission statement helps supporters understand what the Harmony Project does and how they accomplish that goal. If you want to engage new and existing supporters, make sure that you have a clear and specific mission statement.

For examples, check out this list of forty mission statements from all types of nonprofits.


2. Your mission statement is hiding.

If your supporters visit your website and can’t find your mission statement, you’re doing it wrong.

There are many ways to build your nonprofit’s audience, but having a bold and visible mission statement is one of the easiest and most effective tactics.

After you and your nonprofit staff have crafted a specific and effective mission statement, send it out into the world!

Place it:

  • On your website.
  • Within your emails.
  • On promotional items like t-shirts and water bottles.
  • On your social media pages.
  • On banners and flyers promoting your fundraising events.
  • Anywhere you can!

Your mission statement should be highly visible and remind supporters of the work that you do. Not only will you be able to briefly explain your nonprofit’s goal through your mission statement, but your new supporters will be uplifted knowing that they are contributing or volunteering with an organization that is committed to a specific vision.

You should be connecting with your supporters in a multitude of ways. Having a visible mission statement is just another tactic for making those effective connections.


3. Your mission statement isn’t part of your nonprofit’s culture.

It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day operations of your organization and completely forget that you even have a mission statement.

If you want to avoid wearing out your nonprofit staff, remind them of the importance of the work they do by making your mission statement part of your organization’s daily culture.

When you consistently make your mission statement a priority at your nonprofit, you help your staff stay focused on what they’re trying to accomplish. Similarly to how you would include your mission statement in your communications to supporters, you should include it:

  • Within internal emails, perhaps in an email signature.
  • On business cards.
  • On letterheads.
  • Within your office space.
  • On company promotional items.
  • Anything else you can think of!

The key is to make your mission statement as visible to everyone as you can. Supporters, employees, and random strangers should read your mission statement, know exactly what you do, and possibly want to be a part of your cause.


If you aren’t sure where to start with your nonprofit’s mission statement, consider attending a nonprofit conference for inspiration. You can gain insight into how to craft an effective mission statement and meet nonprofit professionals who have years of experience in their fields. You’ll also be exposed to plenty of successful mission statements from your colleagues’ organizations. By avoiding these three mission statement mistakes, you’ll be poised for success!

Speak Your Mind


Iris Creative Group Inc. • 451 S. Bethlehem Pike, Suite 310 • Fort Washington, PA 19034 • P: 267.468.7949
Pinterest Google+ Slideshare LinkedIn Facebook Twitter RSS"