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. Organisations are not legally permitted to carry out functions which are not within the remit of their objects or core purpose, as defined in their governing documents. If applying for charitable status, The Charity Commission for Northern Ireland will look at an organisations’ objects/purposes as part of the registration process to determine if they are charitable. Only certain types of purposes are considered charitable. Organisations should ensure they are delivering on their original purpose outlined in their governing documents.
The legal objects/purposes in a constitution (e.g. ‘to promote education’) should not be confused with the more specific mission/purpose of the organisation which might be stated in a strategic plan (e.g. ‘to enable children with barriers to learning to achieve their potential through after-schools programmes’).
Example mission statements:
Enabling people to offer their skills and time to build stronger, active communities.
To lead the development of a cohesive and informed Sport and Recreation sector in Northern Ireland.
NI Sports Forum
To work for the child’s right to play.
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 purpose)
- for whom (beneficiaries)
- where, why or how
It is the reason the group or organisation exists and helps keep everyone involved in the organisation focused.
Download worksheet: Developing a Mission Statement