How to write a vision statement
Your vision statement is about the future. It paints a picture of what your organisation wants to become, achieve and change. A vision statement should inspire and challenge employees, board members, clients and other stakeholders.
The vision statement is at the heart of the organisation and is something to strive towards. It describes how things would look if the issues important to your organisation and community were completely and perfectly addressed.
A good example the TasCOSS vision statement:
One Tasmania, free of poverty and inequality where everyone has the same opportunity.
Decide on the focus of your organisation
To start thinking about a vision statement you need to be clear about the focus of your organisation.
Ask these questions to help find your focus:
- What specific group do you provide service to?
- What are the specific services you provide?
- What is the location of these services?
- What is unique about your organisation?
These can be answered by the board, senior management team, staff, clients and volunteers. Once you are clear about your focus, you are ready to move onto the next step.
Engage with key stakeholders
You will need to design a process to get input from key stakeholders. Apart from your board, staff, and volunteers key stakeholders can include:
- clients and consumer groups
- funding bodies and donors
- partner organisations, including referral sources
- competitors, other organisations providing the same services
- other community members
Ways to gather input from your key stakeholders include:
- focus groups
Provide key stakeholders with the information about the focus of your organisation. Then ask open questions such as ‘what issues do we need to deal with?’ and ‘what would be the ideal for our target group?’ This should give you ideas about how things would look if the issues were completely resolved.
There are a number of How To's related to these methods. Refer to How to plan and run a focus group, and How to write questions for a survey to get started.
Develop your vision statement
To develop your vision statement ask yourself ‘What are the values of this organisation? What do we want to solve? How do we stay aligned with our values to achieve this?’
Combined with the focus you originally developed, bring in the feedback offered by your key stakeholders to build a picture of what the organisation is all about.
Fill your vision statement with passion and emotion. It needs to be only one sentence. It needs to be readable, and understandable, and it should be something that people can relate to. Use the present tense, even though this is a future focused statement.
It might be useful to get help from a professional writer in putting together your vision statement. They will help you avoid jargon and ensure that the statement is easy to understand. You can also use a readability tool (there is one available in Word documents).
Get support for your vision statement
Once you have created your vision statement, test it out. Go back to your key stakeholders. Ask is it understandable, is it inspiring?’
After receiving feedback, make any needed changes and check in again.
Decide how you will use your vision statement
Now you have developed your vision statement it needs to be seen. It is the focus and communicates what is important to your organisation.
You can use your vision statement in many ways:
- on the front page of your website
- as a standard opening slide for presentations
- displayed in your foyer or reception
- on letterheads, and annual reports
- on organisational flyers and leaflets
- in your communications (eg, in your branding or advertising, in your email signatures)
- on promotional material – t-shirts, keep cups, pens
Review your vision statement
Your vision statement needs to be reviewed regularly to keep it up to date, and to let it grow with the organisation. If the focus of your organisation changes or develops, it's time to develop a new statement.