1. Establishing Your Mission /

1.4. Defining your mission

STANDARD:

We have a mission statement that sets out our overall purpose.

To meet the standard in full, you have a mission statement in writing that is short, memorable and inspiring. It clearly communicates the purpose of your organization. Your team understands and refers to your mission statement, and you use it as a guide when making important decisions.

Social enterprises are on a mission to benefit society, through their good work in the community or their positive contribution to the environment.

Having your mission visible and known can be really helpful in building support. This mission is therefore usually set out in the form of a written mission statement.

Good mission statements communicate clearly the overall purpose of organizations and their work. They describe the biggest, most broad-ranging change organizations are striving for. For example:

“To inspire breakthroughs in the way the world treats children and to achieve immediate and lasting change in their lives.”
Save the Children


If you are preparing a mission statement you might want to put it together from two or more of the following elements, using words that describe:

  • The big idea or aim that you are passionate about (your cause).
  • The people or groups that will benefit (your target group).
  • The combination of things that you benefit them (your strategies).
  • The ultimate change you want to bring about (your impact).

Here’s an example of how a mission statement is put together:

To build lasting solutions [STRATEGIES] to poverty and injustice [CAUSE], with a focus on improving the lives and promoting the rights [IMPACTS] of women and girls [BENEFICIARIES]
Oxfam Canada

The best mission statements are concise, logical and compelling.

Once finalised, don’t just ignore your mission statement. You can use it to inform others about the good work you do. You can also use it to motivate your team to feel part of your cause. As far as possible, ensure that your mission is regularly referred to by your team and that it guides all significant decisions that are made.

Course 1 in the Impact Practice series from the Social Enterprise Institute shows you how to put together a mission statement that will describe your impact and inspire others.