How to Write a Mission Statement

Purpose and Goals in 25 Words or Less

Missions statements, whether they are personal or written for a business or organization, clarify purpose and state goals.

Wondering how to write a mission statement for your business or organization? Here's a simple equation: what you do + who/what you do it for = the mission statement.

What Is a Mission Statement?

A mission statement should succinctly communicate what your organization is all about, from goals to underlying philosophies. Businesses use mission statements to highlight their products and services for customers/clients, employees, suppliers and others in the business community. Nonprofit organizations use mission statements to communicate their reason for being. The mission statement becomes an important component of fund-raising activities.

Mission Statement vs. Vision Statement

A mission statement tells what an organization is currently doing, while a vision statement describes the ideal state, or end goal. Mission statements are typically one or two sentences; a vision statement can be a slogan of just a few words.

For example, the mission of Feeding America is “to feed America’s hungry through a nationwide network of member food banks and engage our country in the fight to end hunger.” The vision statement, in contrast, is only four words: “a Hunger-Free America.”

Real-Life Mission Statements

You don’t have to include everything you do or every product your business makes. You want to provide just enough information to show others why you exist. Here are some real-life examples of effective mission statements:

  • Monterey Bay Aquarium: “To inspire conservation of the oceans”
  • American Heart Association: “To build healthier lives, free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke.”
  • National Parks Conservation Association: “To protect and enhance America’s National Park System for present and future generations.”
  • AARP: “To enhance quality of life for all as we age. We lead positive social change and deliver value to members through information, advocacy, and service.”
  • NPR: “To work in partnership with member stations to create a more informed public―one challenged and invigorated by a deeper understanding and appreciation of events, ideas and cultures.”
  • The Bank of New York: “We strive to be the acknowledged global leader and preferred partner in helping our clients succeed in the world's rapidly evolving financial markets.”
  • Ford Motor Company: “We are a global family with a proud heritage passionately committed to providing personal mobility for people around the world.”

Personal Career Mission Statement

A personal career mission statement provides focus and can help you define your professional goals. Although you will not include the statement on a cover letter or resume, write it down and put it in a place where you will see it daily, such as a closet door or bathroom mirror. You can update and even change your statement, but make sure it inspires you to work toward a specific career goal. Some examples include:

  • “My personal career mission is to gain experience in the public accounting field toward earning my CPA designation.”
  • “My personal career mission is to work as an RN for two years, then pursue a master’s degree.”
  • “My personal career mission is to gain experience as a veterinary technician and apply to veterinary medical school.”

Short and Sweet

Experts agree that the most-effective mission statements are one sentence, two at most. Some organizations use their mission statements as their slogans. For example, Walmart promises: “Always low prices!” These three words are easy to remember and clearly state what the company is all about.

A mission statement does not have to be carved in stone. It’s a good idea to review a mission statement periodically to make sure that it represents your organization today. Organizations change in response to events and take advantage of new opportunities and updated technologies. Evaluating your mission statement from time to time, revising as necessary, allows you to effectively communicate your purpose.

×