Nonprofit Mission Statements for Today's Donors

So, what is a mission statement for nonprofits? How have they changed over the years? And why do they still matter?

A mission statement really is the "north star" for your organization. It lets everyone know why you exist and why that is important. Without a clear statement of what you stand for and plan to do, your organization could easily wander off course and waste time and money. Besides, when you apply for nonprofit status with the IRS, you must be able to articulate why you deserve to be treated as a 501c3 tax-exempt organization. Your mission will be part of that explanation.

However, mission statements today have changed. Once ponderous documents meant only for insiders, today's mission statements serve as marketing tools to entice a particular audience to your cause. They typically are succinct and much shorter than before. They show up in marketing materials and online. They are written for a general audience.

Mission statements are still important for all the reasons they used to be important, but now they bear the weight of public consumption and all that entails. Don't shrug off your mission statement.  Take the time, get the input, and take care in writing it.  It counts for more than you think.  For the details about how to go about writing a great mission statement, you can learn how to write an amazing nonprofit mission statement.

Meanwhile, below are some amazing mission statements from an assortment of terrific charities that you can use as models.

Every Mother Counts

Homepage for Every Mother Counts.
Everymother Counts/Screenshot by JFritz

Fast Company named this nonprofit one of its most innovative organizations of 2016. And for good reason. This charity tackles the problem of maternity deaths around the globe. No woman expects to die while giving birth, yet it happens. Even in the U.S.

Here's the mission statement for Every Mother Counts. It is simple, even stark, but eloquent.

"Every Mother Counts is a non-profit organization dedicated to making pregnancy and childbirth safe for every mother. We inform, engage, and mobilize new audiences to take actions and raise funds that support maternal health programs around the world."

Save the Chimps

Save the Chimps Website
Save the Chimps

You can't get more focused like a laser beam than Save the Chimps. Its mission statement is short, to the point, and all business.

"To provide and build support for permanent sanctuary for the lifelong care of chimpanzees rescued from research laboratories, entertainment, and the pet trade."

American Heart Association

American Heart Association

The mission statement of the American Heart Association is simple and specific. There is no organizational jargon here, just a direct statement of what the organization does and its focus.

"Building healthier lives, free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke."


Kiva website

Kiva's mission statement is just about as simple as they get. Simply elegant, that is. Kiva understands how to speak to a contemporary audience. The keywords, "connect," "lending," and "poverty" carry the entire message. The simplicity of Kiva's mission statement is carried throughout its website with simple graphics to illustrate what could be a hard-to-understand concept, microlending. Instead, Kiva has defined that term for a new generation of donors.

"To connect people through lending for the sake of alleviating poverty."

Sierra Club of South Carolina

Sierra Club of South Carolina

The Sierra Club of South Carolina mission statement beautifully expresses its vision for the environment. Note emotive words such as "wild places" and "enlist humanity."

"To explore, enjoy, and protect the wild places of the earth; to practice and promote the responsible use of the earth's ecosystems and resources; to educate and enlist humanity to protect and restore the quality of the natural and human environment; and to use all lawful means to carry out these objectives."

Humane Society of the U.S.

Humane Society of the U.S.

The Humane Society's mission statement is eloquent, brief and moving.

"To create a humane and sustainable world for all animals, including people, through education, advocacy, and the promotion of respect and compassion."

March of Dimes

March of Dimes Website
March of Dimes

The March of Dimes mission statement is focused and written in language that appeals to anyone. Notice the use of emotion-laden words such as "fighting chance" and "threats."

"To improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth, and infant mortality. We carry out this mission through research, community services, education and advocacy to save babies' lives. March of Dimes researchers, volunteers, educators, outreach workers and advocates work together to give all babies a fighting chance against the threats to their health: prematurity, birth defects, low birthweight."

The Tucson Arizona Boys Chorus

Arizona Boys Chorus

The mission statement of The Tucson Arizona Boys Chorus is short, sweet, and clear.

"To provide boys in the community an enriched educational experience through the study and performance of choral music."

Homeboy Industries

Homeboy Industries webpage
Homeboy Industries

The mission statement of Homeboy Industries is direct, honest, hard-hitting, and effective. The phrase "Jobs not Jails" is also used as a tagline.

"Jobs not Jails: Homeboy Industries assists at-risk and formerly gang-involved youth to become positive and contributing members of society through job placement, training and education."

College Forward

College Forward

The mission statement of College Forward manages to convey a lot of information in a concise way.

"College Forward provides college access and college persistence services to motivated, economically disadvantaged students, in order to facilitate their transition to college and make the process exciting and rewarding. We believe access to higher education is the right of every young Texan.

"We accomplish this by providing:

  • Orientation to the college experience
  • Preparation for college entrance examinations
  • Assistance with college applications
  • Assistance securing financial aid
  • College persistence support"

Food Bank For New York City

Food Bank of New York City

The Food Bank For New York City's mission statement manages to include location and several keywords in its statement while remaining concise yet visionary.

"As one of the country's largest food banks, our mission is to end hunger in New York City by organizing food, information and support for community survival and dignity. As the city's hub for integrated food poverty assistance, the Food Bank tackles the hunger issue on three fronts — food distribution, income support and nutrition education — all strategically guided by its research."

Goodwill Industries International

Goodwill International

The mission statement of Goodwill Industries International does a great job of being concise while conveying a lot of information. Note the turn of phrase in "power of work." "Employment" would not be nearly as effective.

"Goodwill Industries International enhances the dignity and quality of life of individuals, families and communities by eliminating barriers to opportunity and helping people in need reach their fullest potential through the power of work."

Memorial Healthworks! Kids Museum

Kids Museum

Memorial Healthworks! Kids Museum's mission statement is as much fun as the organization itself.

"Memorial is committed to improving the quality of life of the people who live in our community. HealthWorks! supports that purpose by infectiously contaminating kids of all ages everywhere to learn, have fun, and make great life choices. Let the epidemic begin!"

U.S. Fund for UNICEF


The mission for the U.S Fund for UNICEF convinces the head with its statistics and tugs at the heart with the pledge to "do whatever it takes" to help children around the world.

"Working in over 150 countries, UNICEF is a global humanitarian relief organization providing children with health care, clean water, nutrition, education, emergency relief and more. The U.S. Fund for UNICEF supports UNICEF's humanitarian relief work through fundraising, advocacy and education in the United States.

"Despite extraordinary progress, 22,000 children still die each day from preventable causes. Our mission is to do whatever it takes to make that number zero by giving children the essentials for a safe and healthy childhood."

Stratford Shakespeare Festival

Stratford Shakespeare Festival

The Stratford Shakespeare Festival rebranded itself and came up with this striking mission statement.

"With William Shakespeare as its foundation, the Stratford Shakespeare Festival aims to set the standard for classical theatre in North America. Embracing our heritage of tradition and innovation, we seek to bring classical and contemporary theatre alive for an increasingly diverse audience."

St. Jude Children's Research Hospital

St. Jude Children's Research Hospital

St. Jude's mission statement is simple and direct, expressing the hospital's devotion to its founder's original vision.

"The mission of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is to advance cures, and means of prevention, for pediatric catastrophic diseases through research and treatment. Consistent with the vision of our founder Danny Thomas, no child is denied treatment based on race, religion or a family's ability to pay."