March 7, 2019

What is a Nonprofit Vision vs Mission? Video

What’s the difference between a nonprofit vision vs. mission? You may be completely clear about the difference, but many nonprofit board and staff members get confused by these two concepts. Listen and share this video to grow clarity in your nonprofit about these two essential and related ideas.


What is a nonprofit vision versus a nonprofit mission?

Let’s start with the mission.

I’m Karen Eber Davis, and I want to help explain this to you because people often get them confused, and they often use them incorrectly in conversation like they mean the same things. They’re really two distinct things.

So let’s start with the mission. The mission is the field that you’re working in. You’re working in literacy. You want how people learn how to read. You’re teaching ballet to young people. You are working on the environment of the beach, making sure the beach is in really in good shape.

So it’s kind of like, where you’re working, what your field is.

  • It’s your mission to make the beach better.
  • It’s your mission to help children learn how to read.
  • It’s a mission to provide great opera to your community.

Now that’s mission. So here’s the switch over.


When you look on the beach, you’re at the beach now working on your mission. What your vision is, is that ideal place you’re heading to.

So it may be that your vision for the beach that you’re working on is: it’s in pristine condition, like no humans have ever been there. There are no cigarette butts. There’s no garbage. And this is how nature made the beach. And it goes back to that condition.

That’s your vision.

So it’s not where you are now, and you may never get there.

So your mission is about how what you’re working on and fixing the beach.

Your vision is this ideal state, what would happen if something very wonderful happens and you really got to you do your mission like you’d really like to so things would change into this wonderful new place.

With opera, for instance, it could be that now you’re doing opera. That’s your mission and providing great quality opera mission to your community, but your vision is that everyone in the community would be exposed to opera. How cool it is, and so instead of like, “Oh yeah, I’ve heard of opera.”

They would understand, and those people who loved opera would have a chance to see and experience it. So everyone in your town would know what the quality and is interesting and why opera is important to our world.

So those are my attempts to help you kind of split out two categories. They’re interrelated because it can be that your mission is to make things perfect, but that’s sort of your vision.

In some ways, you never, never achieve your vision unless you’re in a kind of an ideal

state and have an amazing amount of money and resources, but you’re working towards it. A mission is what you’re doing. What you’re working on.

I’m Karen Eber Davis, and there’s more in my newsletter for people working with nonprofits to help them become even better leaders.

You can keep up with me,  subscribe to m 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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