Letting Your Nonprofit Vision Statement Guide Management
What does your nonprofit stand for? What are your organization’s values? What do you see as your greater goal for the future? These are all questions that help to define your vision statement. You already have a well-thought-out mission statement so why do you need to create something else?While a mission statement refers to what your group does, it lacks the long-term, ongoing view of what you stand for. Your vision statement establishes core principles to guide you toward that ideal future utopia and lays down a solid blueprint for you to map out your management style.
To get the juices flowing, let’s take a look at some organizations that have their values down pact!
Greenpeace: “Greenpeace challenges the systems of power and privilege that destroy the environment and place disproportionate burdens on vulnerable communities. As Greenpeace, we know from nature that diversity is essential to life on the planet and success in our organization.”
Teach for America: “At Teach For America, we are committed to realizing the diversity, equity, and inclusiveness we envision for the United States and its Indigenous Nations.”
Human Rights Campaign: “The Human Rights Campaign envisions a world where lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people are ensured equality and embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.”
If a written vision statement isn’t something you have at this point, then keep these ones in mind and research some others as you hone in on your ideals for the future. If you need more inspiration check out some examples here!
Writing down goals and ideas is the first step to making them reality. When it has officially hit paper and been printed off, it’s time for you to review it and recall everything that went into creating it: the “vision,” the emotion, and all the accompanying ideas. Similar to the question from above, what values are in that statement? These are the values and ideals to be guiding your management style.
Referring back to our example from Teach for America, their website lists three of their core values as “diversity, equity and inclusiveness,” and having them well defined makes it easy for any employee to begin leading by example. Anyone who separates instead of integrates or excludes instead of includes is actively working against the vision for that organizational utopia. Any manager with this statement at hand is equipped to recognize out-of-line behavior and attitudes and can respond accordingly with actions that do reflect these predefined values.
Beyond responding to the actions of other employees, vision statements and values allow managers to lead with the big picture in mind. If diversity is part of that vision, managers know that maintaining an open and varied workforce of people and ideas is essential. This mindset then informs hiring decisions and the setting of shorter-term S.M.A.R.T. goals. If the long-term vision is to include any values, the goal makers need to be thinking about them ahead of time.
Lastly, vision statements offer a higher standard for teams to work toward together. The values and the vision statement transform into the motivation for each employee at your nonprofit. Your director of development and anyone else working on fundraising now has the vision to share and impart upon donors. When a potential donor can see that an organization is actively seeking a higher ideal for itself and for those whom it serves, they are far more likely to donate.
A vision statement might sound like something you don’t need, but writing it down and using it to inspire and direct your work each day only makes your organization better. It allows your managers and all employees to work toward a common ideal, further advancing your work and mission as a nonprofit organization. Revisit yours if need be. Do some organizational soul-searching and identify those core values to motivate everyone to work together for something even greater.
Kyle McClure is the Growth & Partnerships Manager at Elevation, a full-service nonprofit web design agency. Kyle, a born and raised Pittsburgher, started in the nonprofit world during college when he interned for some of the Burgh’s favorite performing arts organizations. He began at Elevation as a project manager in 2016 with experience ranging from customer and donor relations to PR & marketing. A culture junkie, you can find Kyle planning trips, trying new restaurants, and searching for shows.