8 elements of an effective vision statement

Walt Disney famously said, “If you can dream it, you can do it.” According to nonprofit management expert Terri Temkin, organizations would be wise to listen to Disney’s words when it comes to crafting a vision statement.

Temkin wrote in “Secrets of Successful Boards” that a vision statement draws a picture of what the world will look like once the organization’s mission is fulfilled. This is different than a mission statement, which simply states what the organization is trying to accomplish. If properly communicated, Temkin wrote that a vision statement can be highly motivational to the nonprofit’s stakeholders.

What makes up an effective vision statement? Temkin cited the work of Burt Nanus in his book “Visionary Leadership” to give nonprofit managers a better idea of how they can start crafting their vision.

A vision statement, according to Nanus, is:

  • Future oriented;
  • Likely to lead to a better future for the organization – that is, it fits the organization’s history and culture;
  • Reflects the organization’s values;
  • Sets standards of excellence;
  • Clarifies the organization’s purpose and direction;
  • Inspires enthusiasm and commitment;
  • Reflects the uniqueness of the organization; and,
  • Ambitious.