In the association space, it often seems like the words “mission statement,” “vision statement,” and “values statement” are thrown around without much context on how they differ from one another. You know that each of these statements represent your organization in some way, but maybe not their exact purpose. We believe it’s important to define these qualities about your association. It provides value to both your members and your board to know what you stand for as a whole - and isn’t that the goal?
So, let’s get to it: Mission vs. Vision vs. Value
Your Mission Statement (Translation: Why do we exist?)
We believe that, first and foremost, your association should be focusing on the why. Here at MemberClicks, we often reference Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle Analogy when thinking about why we are doing something and for what purpose. The idea is that if you focus on your why, you will get to the core of your association’s reason for existing. Knowing this answer will allow you to clarify to your board, your members, and your public audience why your association makes the actions it does on a day-to-day basis.
In case you’re still feeling uncertain, think of it this way: What are you providing your target audience and why? For some great examples, check out some of the top non-profit’s mission statements.
Follow this basic template for your mission statement: Our mission is to (verb) (your audience) by (actions you want to accomplish).
Your Vision Statement (Translation: What is your goal?)
When thinking about your association’s vision statement, you should be asking yourself: What is our endgame? Often people confuse this statement with the mission, understandably. The best way to remember is that the mission is what you are doing in the present, where as the vision is what you want for the future.
Another great way to remember how to define your vision is to think about how your association will help your community. It’s easy to assume that your vision statement only needs to describe how your association will be the best. However, that doesn’t do a lot to help the people in your association space. Instead, try to think about what problem you want to solve and how you can provide support to that cause.
Here’s a basic template for your vision statement: Our vision is a (community/world) where (you no longer have the problem that your association fixes).
Your Value Statement (Translation: How will we accomplish it?)
After you come up with your mission statement and vision statement, we recommend taking a look at how you want your association to meet these goals. You want to make sure that your values are reflecting what type of community you want to construct in your other statements. What do you want them to emphasize?
As an example, MemberClicks has seven values that we focus to ensure that we are providing the quality of work we’d want to receive ourselves. Our values are 1) being shockingly refreshing, 2) taking it personally, 3) collaboration, 4) working hard merits playing hard, 5) autonomy, 6) enabling transparency, and 7) be forgiving. By having these guidelines, it allows for us to take a second and think if we are accomplishing our goals with the best of intentions.
One method we recommend to come up with your values is to ask yourself: What is more important in your association - this or that?
So, now that you're thinking about your three statements, how can you use them? Here are some ways that you can put your statements into action where they will be beneficial to your organization:
- Use them as a sounding board for your tough questions at your board/committee meetings
- Use them to evaluate your board members / ED / CEO
- Use them to define what you stand for as an association to the public
Ultimately, you’ll know the voice of your association better than anyone else. Trust yourself (and your board) to use your statements as a compass to define the why (mission), the what (vision), and the how (values).
Once you have your statements nailed down, you want your potential members and members to know what you stand for. The best way to get the word out is by marketing your association. Need ideas on where to start? Check out our Small-Staff Guide to Association Marketing.