Focusing on Your Mission and Vision

Mission and visionIn the past couple of months I have worked with two organizations as they reconsidered their mission and vision.  While the organizations are drastically different from each other, both were doing this process as the first step in strategic planning.    I was proud of both organizations for taking the first step, and I was reminded how easy it is to use an old mission and vision when the staff, board, and volunteers have evolved or changed.

This is a list of questions designed to make you think about whether your mission and vision is still right for your organization.   Maybe this will be the first step in your new planning process.  Or, the next step in knowing that your nonprofit is on the right path.

Consider the following:


  1. Is the mission still current?  Does it feel fresh and inspiring?
  2. Do the board, staff and volunteers understand the mission and agree that is the focus of your organization?  Can they explain it to someone in an elevator pitch or more extensive conversation?
  3. Pull out your latest program brochure.  Do all of the programs help you fulfill your mission?  Is there any part of your mission that is not currently being fulfilled?  If there are programs that are community supported but not part of your mission – what does that say about your mission?
  4. Is your mission unique?  You don’t have to recreate the wheel, but you should state what makes your organization the one of the millions that should be supported.
  5. Does the wording give everyone a true understanding of the organization and its purpose?
  6. Is each word there to help further your mission?  Take out one or more and see how it changes the impact.


  1. Does your vision describe what you hope to achieve as an organization in the future?  The more specific your vision – the easier it is to imagine what it will look like in the future.
  2. When you consider a new program, do you consider whether it will help fulfill your vision?
  3. Do you feel motivated when you read it?  Will others?  It is easy to share inspiration.
  4. How long will your vision statement last?  Is this a five-year vision?  Ten-year?  Is it achievable or too pie-in-the-sky?
  5. Is it specific to who will benefit from your vision?  People want to know if you plan on serving the same population or additional groups, the same amount of people with more focus on specific areas or a broader range of services?
  6. Is your vision visionary?

If you know the answers to the questions above, you will know whether or not you need to jumpstart your strategic planning.  And if Mersky, Jaffe & Associates can help in any way, please Email David Mersky.