How to Write a Vision Statement

So, who are you?

To loosely quote Della Bea Robinson in “Ray Charles” when the conversation hits the question of who Ray is as an artist, “If you don’t know, nobody will.” In other words, if you can’t explain who you are as a person or group to yourself/yourselves, nobody else is going to get it.

If nothing else, at least thinking about this question will provide you some guidance as you deal with recruiting potential members and/or volunteers, and possibly even solicit donations. No matter who you talk to, they will want to know why they should give you their time and possibly their money.

Closely related to this question is another one: “What do you do?”, also better known as a “mission statement“. The two are intertwined, but they can’t be used interchangeably.

What a vision statement is not

A vision statement, while somewhat vague, should not be simply a stream of consciousness. It is also not your mission. It is not something you frequently change, but it’s not set in stone, either. Basically, the “hierarchy” goes from vision to mission, and everything else follows that, including your elevator statement.

What a vision statement typically contains

According to Wikipedia, a vision statement is

  • concise: able to be easily remembered and repeated
  • clear: defines a prime¬†goal
  • Time horizon: defines a time horizon
  • future-oriented: describes where the company is going rather than the current state
  • stable: offers a long-term perspective and is unlikely to be impacted by market or technology changes
  • challenging: not something that can be easily met and discarded
  • abstract: general enough to encompass all of the organization’s interests and strategic direction
  • inspiring: motivates employees and is something that employees view as desirable

To an average person, that sounds like a lot of “blah”, and a lot of times it is. The world is full of really vague, bad vision statements. Don’t let this be a deterrent, however. As mentioned, see it as an exercise, and follow our instructions on developing an elevator statement to develop yours.

Do you really need a vision statement?

Yes and no. At the very least you should be able to explain to somebody you are trying to recruit as a donor or volunteer what you do, and more importantly, why their contribution is important.

Vision Statement Examples

The Cleveland Clinic: “The vision of Cleveland Clinic: Striving to be the world’s leader in patient experience, clinical outcomes, research and education.”