Vision, mission and values

The Management Committee of the organisation has the responsibility for both establishing and protecting the overarching purpose, fundamental values and ethical principles which govern the activities of the organisation. These are often referred to as the vision, mission and values. Your vision, mission, and values form the foundation of your organisation and its planning for the future.

This article explains about how your vision, mission and values are established and protected.  It also includes guidance to help you to define or redefine your vision, mission and values including links to practical resources.

Establishing and protecting your vision, mission and values

The vision, mission and values are usually established when the organisation or group is initially set up and the mission is incorporated into the group's strategic plan or action plan. 

Not all groups have these formally defined, however, many groups find it useful to define them in writing in order to:

Example value statement:

"Our work will be guided and informed by our beliefs and commitments to:
Inclusiveness - we respect people, value diversity and are committed to equality.
Participation - we value and recognise the contribution of volunteers within organisations and communities.
Quality - we strive for excellence through continuous improvement.
Openness - we are committed to a culture of teamwork and collaboration."

  • provide a common sense of purpose and identity;
  • provide long-term direction; and
  • communicate internally and externally what their organisation is about.

Establishing the vision, mission and values is also an ongoing process of review to ensure that they are still relevant for the current challenges and environment. Many organisations find it useful to review these at the start of their process of strategic planning.

The Management Committee must ensure that the organisation operates in a way that is consistent with its vision, mission (or purpose) and values (or ethical principles). This should be the basis for planning, monitoring and reviewing all activities, expenditures, policies and decision-making.

In order to be able to do this, committee members need to be familiar with the vision, mission and values of the organisation and these need to be periodically reviewed in light of current and impending circumstances.

What is your vision?

Example vision statements:

"Youthnet's vision is of an inclusive and equitable society that values children and young people and actively enables and celebrates their contribution to this."
(Youthnet)

"Our vision is of individuals connecting with others and their community to build a better society." (Volunteer Now)

Every community group or voluntary organisation is set up to pursue an agreed purpose. This may have been, for example, to provide a service or to address a specific need in the community. Organisations use a range of ways to communicate why they exist, what it is they hope to achieve and how they work. 

The core purpose of the organisation is usually defined in the strategic plan and the governing documents. Organisations are not legally permitted to carry out functions which are not within the remit of their core purpose, as defined in their governing documents.

An organisation's vision is the long-term change it ideally would like to see if its work is successful. A vision should motivate and enable individuals to see how their effort contributes to an overall inspirational purpose.

Worksheet for Developing a Vision Statement

What is your mission?

Example mission statements:

"To increase recognition for volunteering, enable community engagement and maximise the impact of civic involvement." (Volunteer Now)

"To work for the child's right to play." (PlayBoard)

One of the fundamental questions for any group or organisation is, "what is our purpose?" The mission statement should clearly define your purpose. It is a short, formal statement about:
what the organisation aims to do (its prupose)
or whom (beneficiaries)
here, why or how.

It is the reason the group or organisation exists and helps keep everyone involved in the organisation focused.

Worksheet for Developing a Mission Statement

What are your values?

An organisation's values are its guiding principles which apply across the organisation and underpin how its work is carried out. An organisation's values are its basic beliefs about what really matters, which guide how things should be done.

Worksheet for Developing Organisational Values