Tips & tricks: Writing a memorable 25-word statement

Coffee cup, writing pad and paper
For international relief and development organizations, crafting a mission statement (aka, an impact statement or 25-word statement) can be particularly challenging. How do you explain the scope and complexity of your work in just a few words? 
 
The key is to be specific about your impact while avoiding industry jargon, and to stand out while avoiding vague statements.  This is easier said than done, especially since most fundraising opportunities will limit your statement to 25 words or less – but it is possible. Here are 5 ways to get the most out of your 25-word mission statement. 
 
1. Don’t include your name
The easiest way to maximize your mission statement is to leave your name out. This may seem counter-intuitive, but these statements are only used in brochures or marketing materials where your name appears right beside the statement. Including your name takes up valuable space, is redundant and can encourage a donor to keep scanning for other options. 
 
2. Don’t sneak in extra words
It’s tempting to include as many hyphenated words as possible – more words equals more information right? Unfortunately, even if English grammar counts hyphenated words as one, most fundraising coordinators will not. If a strict 25-word limit is imposed and your statement goes over, it could be edited without your knowledge. To make sure your summary is presented the way you want it, don’t add unnecessary hyphenated words. 
 
3. Keep it simple
Avoid industry jargon and keep your terminology simple. It’s even better if you can replace technical terms with general ones that are more frequently searched for by donors. For example, instead of “NTDs” try to describe your mission as improving health and treating or preventing diseases. 
 
4. Be specific
While general terms are more widely searched and understood by the average donor, this doesn’t mean you should be vague about what your organization does. Saying that you “fight for a world where everyone is treated equally” may be inspiring, but it probably won’t be enough to convince someone to donate. Instead, try giving a straightforward and concise explanation of how you’re achieving your mission: “protecting human rights through free legal representation.” If you can include a call to action in your statement that invites a potential donor to lend their resources to your mission, even better!
 
5. Stand out
Solving world problems requires multiple efforts, and no one organization can fix everything. Still, it’s important to highlight what sets your organization apart from others with similar missions. Identify what makes your organization unique – is it focusing on a niche, often-overlooked issue? An innovative approach to a well-known and long-term challenge? Deep ties to the local community? Or do you utilize resources in a way that makes your impact significantly larger compared to similar organizations? Whatever it is, try to include it if doing so doesn’t ruin the overall flow of your statement.
 
If you’re struggling to highlight what sets you apart, consider using words or phrases that are easy to understand but not commonly used by other nonprofits.  
If you find yourself struggling to write a clear, specific and yet powerful mission statement that stands out from other nonprofits, try taking a look at the private sector. Many companies have powerful mission statements that may not advocate for a great cause, but still capture the attention and emotion of the reader. 
 
Need more tips to develop a great mission statement? Reach out to your Relationship Manager for more guidance.