guide to an impactful nonprofit vision statement

5 Step Guide to Creating an Impactful Nonprofit Vision Statement


In the early stages, when you are still figuring out how to start a nonprofit, it can be easy to overlook the importance of your vision statement. After all, it is often just a few words long. 

However, without an inspiring and invigorating vision, your day-to-day actions may lack the proper impact to draw stakeholders to your cause.

Fear not, we will not leave you spinning your wheels. The following tools will help you lock in a successful vision that will build a strong culture for your new nonprofit.

Here is what you need to know:  

Let's go!


What is a Vision Statement?

A vision statement is an idealistic view of how the existence of your nonprofit changes the world and how its actions alter the lives of its communities. 

In other words, if your nonprofit completes its mission, what would the world be like as a result? What powerful vision of the future do you expect as a result of your organization’s tireless effort? 

This is your chance to sell your dream and help others to see why your organization needs to be there to make society better for everyone. Inspire others to take action. 

Pro Tip: Because this vision may inspire your structure, your programs, and even your organization’s name, this should be an area where you focus early on in your journey. 

Why is it Important?

First and foremost, the nonprofit vision statement creates an end goal. One of the most effective ways to plan strategies is working backward with the end in mind. If you have a solid vision, it is easier to identify the steps your nonprofit or charity needs to take to achieve that goal. 

An effective vision statement can also prove beneficial as you investigate how to register a nonprofit. Keep in mind that you will need a strong foundation for completing your 501c3 application to acquire tax-exempt status. 

This end goal also allows you to describe this new future in a way that that vision can be shared with others and become theirs as well. A well-crafted perception of your new world can embrace others and bring them into the fold, ensuring that everyone is on board with the same long-term goal. 

As a result, everyone’s actions will be focused, working toward the same eventual outcome. 

Like a mission statement, the vision statement generally consists of a few well-articulated sentences.

Mission vs. Vision Statement

It is very easy to confuse a mission statement and a vision statement. They even sound similar. However, while there is a relationship that exists between the two, each has a different purpose and function.

Whereas the vision statement is concerned with what the future can be thanks to your nonprofit’s dedication to the cause, the mission statement is focused on right now and the methods in which your organization can build that future. 

A nonprofit mission statement addresses the following three questions:

  • What is it that we actually do?

  • Who are the beneficiaries of our efforts?

  • How do our actions make an impact?

When creating a nonprofit, the vision statement guides the mission and if it properly embodies your organization’s core values and ultimate plan, it remains a consistent and static inspiration for your mission. 

Ryan working on his vision statementRyan is taking his vision statement quite literally

On the other hand, the mission statement can be reconsidered every two or three years as you evaluate how well you have performed and decide new and better ways to achieve the vision’s idea of the future. 


5 Steps to Writing the Perfect Vision Statement

There are many types of nonprofits specializing in a wide variety of different missions. No matter what your cause, a lively image of the world’s evolution thanks to your organization is essential. You want to be able to plant your vision in the minds of others so they can appreciate the value of your journey. 

Here are 5 steps to help you achieve that goal.

Step 1: Involve the Right People

While the founder most likely has a great idea of what they want to accomplish, the crafting of your vision statement should not be the brainchild of a single individual. Work collaboratively with as many people as possible. 

That does not just include your team but also any important or potential stakeholders as well. You want everyone to be able to get on board with your amazing vision. A vision that excites and encourages a great many people will function as a magnet to motivate others to share the dream. 

Pro Tip: The perfect brainstorming group is between 3-4 people. This provides enough input to breed innovation but not so much that you constantly get hung up on conflicting opinions about every topic.

Step 2: Understand the Purpose

One of the important questions to ask a nonprofit organization is: What is your purpose?

Through the drafting process, you should eliminate any doubt as to what your organization does. When someone reads your vision statement, there should be no confusion whatsoever. 

If everyone involved in the creative process is not completely convinced about the organization’s purpose, it is difficult to create a brilliant vision statement. 

Discuss this raison d’etre seriously until everyone associated with the development of your vision statement is united on the same page. 

Step 3: Design Your Vision Roadmap

At this stage, you will want to begin working backward from your end goal. Initiate discussions about what you want to achieve, then outline a clear timeline of the steps necessary at each stage of the process to serve as guidance. 

Planning in this method helps ensure that your vision statement is both realistic and achievable while creating a lot of ideas that you can develop along the way.

Step 4: Narrow Down Your Vision

You want to help a lot of people in a lot of ways. You will probably find that your vision is ambitious, optimistic, and multi-faceted. 

However, at this point, you need to decide what is really most important. The longer your vision statement, the greater chance that it will lose some of its impact. You want to narrow your roadmap down to a few sentences, making a powerful statement. 

Because it will be a point of reference throughout the life of your organization, it is critical that your vision statement is concise, clear, and to the point. 

Step 5: Listen to Your Community

After the writing process is complete, the revision process begins. Just because you have a statement that sounds incredible to your creative team does not mean that everyone will feel the same way. You need objective points of view. 

That’s where your community comes into play.

Oliver framing up his vision statementOliver is framing up his vision statement nicely!

As the vision statement is ultimately for your community, it is essential that they are on board with it. Take the time to acquire feedback from people within your community and listen carefully to their responses. 

You may find that new points of view bring great ideas and suggestions that can make all the difference. 

Once you have accumulated all the advice you reasonably can, take it back to your creative group and consider it as you construct your final draft. 

Think about how your vision statement would sound as a presenter, spreading awareness for your nonprofit. Would it be effective?

Pro Tip: Consider conducting interviews and focus groups to help formulate a well-rounded vision with lots of perspectives and ideas. Once your vision statement and roadmap are complete, you can discover how to perform a needs analysis to determine what resources you need to make your dream a reality. 


Vision Statement Examples

To help you understand what makes a stellar vision statement, we will share some examples of existing mission statements to serve as an example to aid you as you design your own. 

Feed the Children: Create a world where no child goes to bed hungry.

WWF: Building a future in which people live in harmony with nature.

The Task Force for Global Health: A world free of debilitating diseases where all people are protected by strong public health systems. 

Oceana: To make our oceans as rich, healthy, and abundant as they once were.

World Vision: Our vision for every child, life in all its fullness. Our prayer for every heart, the will to make it so.

The Special Olympics: To help bring Special Olympics athletes into the larger society under conditions whereby they are accepted and given the chance to become useful and productive citizens.

ASPCA: The United States is a humane community in which all animals are treated with respect and kindness. 

Habitat for Humanity: A world where everyone has a decent place to live.

In addition to the ones above, other great examples include Make-a-Wish, WWF (World Wildlife Fund), Mountaintop, Equality, and Applause Foundation for the Performing Arts. 



đź’ˇWhat is a nonprofit vision statement?

A vision statement is an idealistic view of how the existence of your nonprofit changes the world and how its actions alter the lives of its communities. In other words, if your nonprofit completes its mission, what would the world be like as a result? Find out more. 

🔑 How do you write a mission and vision statement for a nonprofit?

There are 5 steps in crafting an amazing vision statement: involving the right people, understanding the purpose, designing a vision roadmap, narrowing down your vision, and listening to your community. While crafting your vision statement, think about how it would sound as a presenter, spreading awareness for your nonprofit. Find out more. 

đź“ť What is an example of a vision statement?

There are tons of examples of visions statements from nonprofits organizations you can take inspiration from. We've compiled our favorites above! Find out more.

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