Vision vs. Mission Statement

A mission statement is a statement about the basic purposes of the organization. It is a statement about the organization’s reasons for existing. A mission statement may grow out of discussions around the following six questions:

  • Who are we?
  • What are the basic social needs we exist to meet?
  • What do we do to respond to those needs?
  • How should we respond to our key stakeholders?
  • What is our philosophy and what are our core values?
  • What makes us distinctive or unique?

The mission statement clarifies an organization’s primary intentions. An organization is a means to an end. It is not the end in itself. In other words, an organization serves a greater purpose that is more important than the organization itself. A mission statement will define the organization’s role, bring focus to activity, and eliminate ambiguity concerning its reason for being.

Vision, on the other hand, is a “see” word. What might the organization “look like” ten years from now? Vision suggests a future orientation – an image of the future; an end result. It connotes a standard of excellence, an ideal that can be realized. It has the quality of uniqueness. What in the future should make the organization singular and unequaled? Vision is a mental image of a possible and desirable future state of the organization. Vision evolves out of answers to questions like:

  • If we could invent the future, what future would we invent for the organization?
  • What do we have a burning passion about that we would like to be able to express through our work?
  • What could be the distinctive role or contribution of the organization in the world?
  • What is our collective agenda? What do we want to prove?
  • What is our destiny?

The creation of a vision does not mean that everything is up for grabs. This is not zero-based planning. It will be helpful to identify those things that we consider to be constants, or givens.


With permission, excerpts from: Crothers, W. C. (n.d.). Notes, Suggestions, and Other Ideas: Mission and Vision Clarification. Series C, Number 1. Retrieved on December 29, 2007 from the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities