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Developing a Mission Statement

The council’s mission statement describes what the council will do. The mission will define the council’s work in a realistic and meaningful way. It will translate the overarching vision of the future into a short-term set of activities that can be more readily accomplished.

The mission should be concrete, represent tangible targets of change activity, and be connected firmly to achieving some part of the larger vision. When developing the mission, it is important to be clear about what the council wants to achieve through its work (e.g., what problems or issues the council wants to overcome). This will make it easier when the council begins to develop specific goals and objectives for achieving its mission.

Development of the mission statement can be facilitated in a fashion similar to that of the vision statement.

Helpful Hint:

Starting these exercises with icebreakers can often help get the collaboration moving.

Find icebreaker exercises on these sites:
45 Ice Breaker Games [That Your Team Won’t Find Cheesy]

36 Ridiculously Fun Icebreaker Ideas, Games, & Activities In 2022 For Your Next Meeting

Activity for Mission Setting

An infographic showing the process of moving from an idea to planning to strategy to success

The following steps will guide the development of your mission statement:

  1. Ask each council member to consider the following questions:
    • What function does the council perform?
    • For whom does the council perform these functions?
    • Why do you exist as a council?

Give council members a few minutes to jot down their ideas about these questions. When they are finished, go around the room and record each person’s first response on a flip chart. Go around the room again and note each person’s second response. Continue this process until all ideas are recorded.

  1. Review the keywords generated. Discuss each one and ensure that its meaning is clear. Eliminate duplications. Develop a statement or set of statements that answers the questions and that reflects the consensus of the council.
  2. If multiple statements are produced, prioritize these by asking each member to rank order the statements; then tally the “votes” for each one.
  3. Follow the same process to answer the following questions: What must the council do to accomplish its vision? What are the council’s activities?
  4. For each question, develop a single statement (this may be one sentence or a full paragraph) that synthesizes the prioritized ideas into a mission statement. This process may take some time. You may not be able to complete this work in one session or even as a full council. You may decide it’s best to have one person or a subcommittee work on developing these statements between council meetings.


  • Try to make your mission clear enough to explain your work and purpose to a third party. Ask non-council members to read the mission and see if they understand what you are trying to accomplish.
  • Know that it is okay to let go of some key words or ideas that were shared early in the development process.
  • Rather than get overwhelmed by all the work that your council needs to do to accomplish its vision, focus on the work that your council needs to get done in the immediate future.
  • Revisit your mission periodically to determine whether the targets of change are still accurate or need to be revised.

See Examples of Mission Statements.