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Strategic Planning for Nonprofit Organizations: A Practical Guide for Dynamic Times, 3rd Edition by Michael Allison, Jude Kaye

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Chapter 3Step 3: Mission, Vision, Values

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A primary reason to undertake a strategic planning process is to establish or reaffirm within the organization a shared understanding of why an organization exists and its aspirations for the future. The most succinct reflections of this shared understanding lie in the organization's mission, vision, and values statements. A mission statement is a statement of purpose, a vision statement is a vivid image of the future you seek to create, and a values statement outlines your organization's guiding concepts, beliefs, or principles.

Similarly, anyone coming into contact with your organization wants to know what your purpose is and why your organization exists. This is the question a mission statement should answer. People also want to know what you are trying to achieve. What does success look like for you—what is your vision? And they want to know what beliefs and values guide you—what you stand for.

There are other important questions. Whom do you serve? How do you bring about change—what is your program work? Where do you do your work? These are all important questions, but nonprofits tend to confuse rather than clarify when they try to put too much detail in the mission statement. In order to provide additional information, many organizations provide brief mission and vision statements, with a paragraph or two providing more detail ...

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