Institute for Charitable Giving

blue rule

It Should Fit on a T-Shirt

blue rule

I’m often asked this question. What’s the difference between a Mission Statement and a Vision Statement? James J. Mapes puts it succinctly and brilliantly.

In Quantum Leap Thinking, Mapes says: “It is a common misunderstanding to equate a mission statement with a vision.

“A mission statement comes from the head. A vision comes from the heart.

“Vision is creating an ideal future with a grand purpose. Vision is all about greatness.”

Mapes is a motivational speaker who specializes in creativity and innovation.

His book is a must-read (Dove Books; Beverly Hills, California).

You should review your Mission Statement on a regular basis to make certain it is current and relevant. Writing a Mission Statement is a valuable experience.

Revisiting your Mission Statement forces you to think and describe why you really exist. Take a good look at yours. Some statements are obtuse and confounding.

I was at a board meeting the other day.  One person, reading the Case Statement and peeling away the layers of rhetoric that covered up the core purpose of the organization, finally concluded that the real mission was: “to survive.”

Peter Drucker wrote that a Mission Statement should fit on a t-shirt. The Mission Statement of the Humane Society is: “Celebrating Animals, Confronting Cruelty.”

TED: “Spreading Ideas.”

American Cancer Society: “Eradicating Cancer.”

The Smithsonian: “The Increase and Diffusion of Knowledge.”

Keep your Mission Statement no more than 12 words. Fewer, if possible. The Statement should be concise, clear, and memorable. Inspiring, if possible.


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