March 14, 2019

How to Write a Nonprofit Vision Statement-Video

Writing a not-for-profit vision statement is an exercise of the head and heart. You need a compelling, exciting, and realistic picture of your future. Listen to this video to get some quick tips to get you started to write an inspiring vision statement for your nonprofit organization.

Transcript of How to Write a Nonprofit Vision Statement

How can you write a not-for-profit vision statement?

I’m Karen Eber Davis, and I’m going to give you some hints here. First, I would suggest you don’t write but start to think or talk with your board. Anyone you’re talking about this with, about what it is that you’d like to do. What would be the ideal, amazing outcome you would have to have and could achieve working on your mission? Your mission, of course, is what your subject area is, what you’re working on, with your concern. So it could be literacy, or it could be hunger, or it could be childhood obesity.

Any of those things are your mission. So you’re working in that area, but your vision is what happens if you really, really get to work on your mission, and it comes true. So, no children are ever obese again in our community–it could be a vision statement.

So to write that, first emotionally, think about what it is you’d like to feel and what would excite you. Because part of writing that is collecting the thoughts about where you’re going. What would happen if you really, really got to do what you wanted to do? So that’s one hint. So be writing and thinking and talking, looking for phrases in some ways to express what that ideal future is.

And a couple of words of warning. First of all, try not to be too vague, like one group that I worked with had a vision statement to be the best in the class. And that’s a lovely thing to do. Everyone wants to be number one, but it’s not really about what happens. It’s not about what happens when you get there.

What happens because you’ve done this work? If really you could put a lot of resources into it, where you want to go. Your vision statement, you’ll know when you’re done, is it something that when you are feeling sort of tired on a Friday afternoon, or it’s not been going well, it still has the energy to motivate you. It’s something that calls you to say you know this is tough right now, but I know where we’re going.

That’s a couple of ideas. Another piece I think is important is to test it out with people. Ask people does this sounds like this is possible. So you want ambitious. You want exciting, but you don’t want ridiculous.

I went a number of years ago and met with someone who referred me in and said, please talk to my friend. She had a lot of trouble with her board, and the woman had a tremendous sort of unbelievable vision. It was to change a tiny little place, a tiny little historic-based nonprofit, into the most well-known one in the state of Florida. And it was a great vision, but it was so big, and so like, I don’t know how we get there, that it was discouraging. So, your vision should be realistic.

I’m Karen Eber Davis, and there’s more. My newsletter Added Value about how nonprofit leaders get the community and the resources they need to make their missions happen and their visions come true.

You can keep up with me. Subscribe to my newsletter, Karen’s CEO Solutions

Karen Eber Davis

Karen Eber Davis provides customized advising and coaching around nonprofit strategy and board development. People leaders hire her to bring clarity to sticky situations, break through barriers that seem insurmountable, and align people for better futures. She is the author of 7 Nonprofit Income Streams and Let's Raise Nonprofit Millions Together.


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