5 of our favorite nonprofit vision statements — and what you can learn from them

As we explain in this episode of Whole Whale TV, there is an important distinction from vision and mission statements. Your vision statement is a view of how the world should be as a result of your work. It should be short (i.e., one sentence), but also inspiring, memorable, and able to remain unchanged for 100 years.

We’ve seen a lot of nonprofit vision statements, and have 5 of our favorites to spark your inspiration as we enter 2018.

A note: Some of these vision statements are listed on the organizations’ websites as mission statements. It’s okay to use the term “mission statement” externally if that makes more sense to your constituents, but internally, you need to define this separately from your vision statement so that your team knows the inspiring end result, as well as the deliverables they need to get there.


Yes, you need both a vision AND mission statement. How are nonprofits sharing both? Check out 5 of… Click To Tweet


1. The Trevor Project

Vision: “The mission of The Trevor Project is to end suicide among gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and questioning young people.”


Why We Love It: Yes, the Trevor Project lists this as their mission — but if we look closely at their Strategic Plan & Mission page, we can read between the lines and see that their front-facing mission is really the organization’s driving vision. The four strategies they outline support this vision with a mission to:

  • Provide crisis counseling to LGBTQ youth contemplating suicide
  • Offer resources and a sense of community to LGBTQ youth to reduce the risk that they become suicidal
  • Educate young people and adults to identify suicide risk in LGBTQ youth and respond accordingly
  • Advocate for laws and policies that reduce suicide in the LGBTQ youth community.

We see the why, we see the how. Boom.

2. BAM

Vision: “To be the home for adventurous artists, audiences, and ideas.”


Why We Love It: The vision of the Brooklyn Academy of Music applies to each of its main offerings — from film to live performance to education. Whether you head to the Fort Greene institution to catch the latest indie film, to participate in a dance masterclass, or to see a Dutch theater company perform three Shakespearean history plays in one mega-marathon, the vision of adventurous artists, audiences, and ideas applies throughout. It also has the hallmarks of a big, huge, ambitious vision: It’s an evergreen intention that drives the day-to-day work of the organization, inspires those who work at BAM, and sets the organization apart from the other manifold performing arts institutions in the five boroughs.

3. Museum of Indian Arts and Culture

Vision: “A world that recognizes and understands Native peoples as diverse tribes, each with a distinctive history, culture, and language, and each of which is an integral part of the vibrant, historical, and cultural landscape of the American Southwest.”


Why We Love It: Read that vision statement. Read it again. Notice a word missing? Yeah. They don’t use “museum” once. MIAC has a purpose that extends past curation and arts, and we’re willing to bet that this vision is infused into each collection and exhibit that they produce.

4. Amnesty International

Vision: “Our vision is a world in which every person enjoys all of the human rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international human rights standards.”

Why We Love It: Once again, the how is left out of Amnesty’s vision — but we can see how each component of their work that fulfills the “how” leads to this overarching “why.” For a topic as wide-reaching as human rights, having this as a north star will help when making decisions big and small. All any team member has to do when making a decision is ask, “Will this action help towards ensuring that every person to have all of the human rights outlined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights?”

5. Conservation International

Vision: “We imagine a healthy, prosperous world in which societies are forever committed to caring for and valuing nature, for the long-term benefit of people and all life on Earth.”


Why We Love It: Not only does the vision set Conservation International’s mission, it’s clear that the vision is one for a world made better by the organization’s work. What’s more, if you hover over the “Our Work” section of the site menu, they break down the sections under the “What,” “Where,” and “How.” A great way of supporting the core idea that saw the birth of this nonprofit.

Visionary nonprofit vision statements from @TrevorProject, @BAM_Brooklyn, @NMM_IndianArts, @Amnesty,… Click To Tweet

Which nonprofit vision statements are on your sonar? Tweet them to us @WholeWhale with the hashtag #WhaledIt!