What is your non-profit vision?

visionAs with most things in this world, there are different schools of thought on different things. While working with a client recently, I was reminded of the two camps that non-profit professionals tend to fall into when it comes to writing vision statements. So, I thought it would be fun this morning to explore both perspectives.

On one hand, you have the folks who believe a vision statement must focus on the community and the future state that the non-profit is striving to bring to the community. While digging around on the internet for examples, I came across great examples at Top Nonprofits blog in a post titled “30 Example Vision Statements“. The following are just a few examples from that post:

  • Feeding America: A hunger-free America.
  • Human Rights Campaign: Equality for everyone.
  • Make-A-Wish: Our vision is that people everywhere will share the power of a wish.
  • ASPCA: That the United States is a humane community in which all animals are treated with respect and kindness.

Wow! Big expansive visions. They are packed full of inspiration, and clearly explain in just a few words to donorswhat they are investing in. They are chock-full of aspiration, and guide the organization’s decision making.

Of course, this isn’t the only way to write a vision statement.

On the other hand, you have folks who believe a vision statement should focus on the organization and the change it strives to bring to itself and its clients. The following are a few more examples that illustrate this way of thinking:

  • The United Way of Elgin will be a recognized catalyst for mobilizing resources to build a healthier, more compassionate community.
  • Greater Elgin Family Care Center is known in the communities it serves for high quality, patient-centered care, delivered by a team of competent and committed staff. GEFCC will grow responsively and responsibly to fulfill unmet health needs, enhance community relationships and maintain financial viability.
  • It is our vision that the Rappahannock Youth Symphony will become a major regional youth orchestral organization that nurtures young talent and enriches the greater Fredericksburg community through the performance of orchestral literature.

OK . . . perhaps, these vision statements aren’t as grand as the ones previously cited, but they are certainly very utilitarian and functional. I suspect donors are no less inspired by these visions, and the organization is much clearer on what decisions it must make and actions it must take to get from point A to point B.

Let me be clear. I find both schools of thought to be perfectly acceptable when it comes to writing non-profit vision statements.

Is your organization reaching the end of road with its current strategic plan? Have you fulfilled your vision? Are you getting ready to develop a new vision and plan?

If your answer is ‘YES’ to the previous question, my first piece of advice is to make a conscious decision about which school of thought you subscribe. Recognize that you are at a fork in the road and must make a decision on which road to travel. Once you make this decision, then you may want to check out some of the following resources on how to go about developing and writing your vision statement:

How is your non-profit vision statement written? To which school of thought do you subscribe? What process did you use to develop your vision statement? How do you use your vision statement?

Please use the comment box below to share your thoughts and experiences. We can all learn from each other.

Here’s to your health!

Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC