Friday, November 21, 2014

Genealogy Societies: A Case for Creating a Mission Statement

Why write a mission statement?
Genealogy Societies: A Case for Creating a Mission Statement via
Why write a mission statement?

Don’t people know what you do? After all, the name of your organization spells out who you are, right? Maybe not. A mission statement explains an organization’s purpose, direction and reason for existence. When a mission statement is clear and concise, it can not only let others know who you are and what you do, but also motivate and inspire your members.

Mission statements outline the organization's purpose and main objectives. The statements are set in the present tense and explain why you exist, both to members of the organization and to people outside it. A mission statement can be highly motivating when conveyed clearly and with intent. This is also very helpful when collaborating with members. It can help them stay focused on accomplishing the goals of the organization.

Some reasons & excuses for no mission statement

So if having a clear mission statement is good, why do so many organizations not have them or have poorly written ones?  Some reasons could include:
  • "It takes too much time to develop them."
  • "We will never reach consensus."
  • "Everyone knows what we do, so what is the benefit of writing a statement about it?
  • "We have goals — who needs Mission Statement?
  • “We might have to make some changes and it would be hard to do.”
None of these reasons outweigh the benefits of having a well-written mission statement. Yes, writing a mission statement will take some time and may cause some changes to the group. However, a poorly written mission statement or a lack of a mission statement can be lost opportunities for attracting new members, retaining talented people, and having a thriving organization. A study done by Bain and Company shows that organizations that have "clearly defined Vision and Mission statements that are aligned with a strategic plan, outperform those who do not." In addition, a clear mission statement can strengthen the group, improve decision making and provide clarity of purpose.

What are the attributes of a good mission statement?   

  • Uses language people can understand
  • Resonates with people, evokes an emotional response
  • Communicates the “why” 
  • Is a concise, single, powerful sentence
  • Is memorable, actionable
  • Is specific

3 Elements of a Great Mission Statement

  1. Our Cause — Who do you serve? What matters?
  2. Our Actions — What we do
  3. Our Impact — Changes for the better
These three elements unite the best mission statements. Remember that one or more items may be implied. At times people make mission statements complex, but complexity does not make something more valuable. Think of this as an opportunity to give people a ‘taste’ of your organization. It should get them interested in learning more not telling them everything about your organization. Think of this as your ‘elevator speech.’

Having a clear, concise Mission statement helps members better understand board decisions and organizational changes. It helps the group have a better perspective to what is happening and how they fit in.

Some examples

Here are some examples of good mission statements:
  • Nike: To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world.  (
  • Walgreens: To be the most trusted, convenient, multichannel provider and advisor or innovative pharmacy, health and wellness solutions, and consumer goods and services in communities across America.  (
  • Dell: Our mission is to be the most successful IT systems company in the world by delivering the best customer experience in all markets we serve.  (

How to use a mission statement

The next step is deciding how to use the mission statement. The point is to get your message across to others. There are many ways to share your message:
  • Website
  • Letterhead
  • Giveaway items
  • Press kit
  • Interviews
  • Cover of newsletters and reports
  • Social media
Use your creativity!  There are many ways to use your mission statement in your community.


A mission statement explains the organizations reason for existence. It describes what the organization does and its overall intention.  The mission statement supports the vision and goals of the organization and communicates purpose and direction to members and the community.


Cherie Bush

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