Mission Statement - Standard A1 Explained

What is a mission statement and why is it important? A mission statement is a short, written statement that describes the core purpose of the organization including what it does, for whom and why. The mission statement should be sufficient to guide the strategies and actions of an organization, describe its overall goal, provide a sense of direction, and guide decision-making. 1

In order to effectively govern a nonprofit organization, the board of directors must have a clear understanding of the organization’s mandate. This is provided by the mission statement, which presents an organization’s primary purpose or goals. A mission statement tells the world why your organization exists. 2 Everything an organization does should align with its mission. Boards must review their organization’s mission statement regularly to ensure that it continues to express the organization’s highest aims and commitments. 3 Effective reviews of the mission statement should always involve the full board as well as the Executive Director or most senior staff person.3

A great mission statement:

  • is concise and easy to understand
  • distinguishes your organization from others with a similar mandate
  • inspires others to support your organization’s important work

From "Accreditation Preparation Workbook Section A: Board Governance,"  Katharine Zywert, Social Prosperity Wood Buffalo at the University of Waterloo, 2013.

  1. “Standards Program Definitions,” Imagine Canada, May 2011 
  2. “Strategic Planning: Train the Trainer Workshop Handout,” Cathy Brothers, 2012 
  3. Primer for Directors of Not-for-Profit Corporations: Rights, Duties, and Practices,” Industry Canada, 2002



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