Your vision is your dream. It's what your organization believes are the ideal conditions for your community; that is, how things would look if the issue important to you were completely, perfectly addressed. It might be a world without war, or a community in which all people are treated as equals, regardless of gender or racial background.
Whatever your organization's dream is, it may be well articulated by one or more vision statements. Vision statements are short phrases or sentences that convey your community's hopes for the future. By developing a vision statement or statements, your organization clarifies the beliefs and governing principles of your organization, first for yourselves, and then for the greater community.
There are certain characteristics that most vision statements have in common. In general, vision statements should be:
· Understood and shared by members of the community
· Broad enough to include a diverse variety of local perspectives
· Inspiring and uplifting to everyone involved in your effort
· Easy to communicate - for example, they are generally short enough to fit on a T-shirt
Here are some examples of vision statements that meet the above criteria:
· Caring communities
· Healthy children
· Safe streets, safe neighborhoods
· Every house a home
· Education for all
· Peace on earth
The next piece of the puzzle is to ground your vision in practical terms. This is where developing a mission statement; the next step in the action planning process comes in. An organization's mission statement describes what the group is going to do and why it's going to do that. For example, "Promoting care and caring at the end of life through coalitions and advocacy."
Mission statements are similar to vision statements, in that they, too, look at the big picture. However, they're more concrete, and they are definitely more "action-oriented" than vision statements. Your vision statement should inspire people to dream; your mission statement should inspire them to action.
The mission statement might refer to a problem, such as an inadequate housing, or a goal, such as providing access to health care for everyone. And, while they don’t go into a lot of detail, they start to hint - very broadly - at how your organization might fix these problems or reach these goals. Some general guiding principles about mission statements are that they are:
· Concise. While not as short as vision statements, mission statements generally still get their point across in one sentence.
· Outcome-oriented. Mission statements explain the fundamental outcomes your organization is working to achieve.
· Inclusive. While mission statements do make statements about your group's key goals, it's very important that they do so very broadly. Good mission statements are not limiting in the strategies or sectors of the community that may become involved in the project.
The following examples should help you understand what we mean by effective mission statements.
· "Promoting child health and development through a comprehensive family and community initiative."
· "To create a thriving African American community through development of jobs, education, housing, and cultural pride."
· "To develop a safe and healthy neighborhood through collaborative planning, community action, and policy advocacy."