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Organizational sustainability

The organizational vision is meant to inspire the members of an organization.

It is the starting point for developing goals, objectives and strategies.


The vision statement describes an image of an ideal future that the organization strives for.


The vision statement describes what will happen to the world, a country, a region, a community or a specific problem in a long-distance future (e.g. in 10 years) in case the NGO achieve its purpose.

It is an important element of a strategic plan.

You will also find vision statements on many websites of NGOs together with their mission statement.


Preparing a vision statement


You can prepare a vision statement in a 4-step process which should be seen as a guideline how to approach the task if you have never done it before.


Graphic 1:      Four step process to create a draft vision statement


A draft vision statement can be developed within a short period of time by a team of staff members with the help of a facilitator:

Additionally, you could look at vision statements of other NGOs and analyze how they have approached the task.


What will you accomplish during the different process steps?


Step 1:  Describe a key problem which the organization would like to address.

Example of key problems:

  • “Many people in rural areas fall ill because of lack of clean water”
  • “High unemployment among women”
  • “Many households are not connected to the electric grid”
  • “The natural environment is threaten to different degrees all over the world”
  • “High degree of corruption in the society”
  • “Social injustice”


Step 2:  Imagine the ideal situation in 10 - 20 years.

Examples of ideal situations:

  • “All members of rural communities have access to safe drinking water”
  • “Women have equal opportunities to find a job as men”
  • “Households have access to affordable, environmentally friendly produced electricity”
  • “People live in harmony with nature”
  • “A world free of corruption”
  • “Social justice”


Step 3:  Capture the image of the ideal future with key words or phrases

Example of key words or phrases:

  • "…affordable…."
  • "…sufficient…"
  • "…free access to…”
  • “…equal access to…"
  • “…every person enjoys…”


Step 4:  Draft the vision statement based on the key words selected in step 3.

      It will consist of a few lines and might start with a phrase like

  • “We believe that…”
  • “We are committed to…”
  • “We want that…”
  • “We seek…”
  • “We envision…”

or a declaration of what should be the outcome of the organization´s activities like

  • “To improve…”
  • “To reduce…”.


Vision statements of existing NGOs


  • WWF's vision is to build a future in which people live in harmony with nature.”
  • Amnesty International’s vision is of a world in which every person enjoys all of the human rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international human rights instruments”.
  • “A world in which government, politics, business, civil society and the daily lives of people are free of corruption” (ex: Transparency International).                                                
  • Oxfam’s vision is a just world without poverty. We envision a world in which people can influence decisions which affect their lives, enjoy their rights, and assume their responsibilities as full citizens of a world in which all human beings are valued and treated equally                                                                                                                              
  • We seek a world of hope, tolerance and social justice, where poverty has been overcome and people live in dignity and security. CARE International will be a global force and a partner of choice within a worldwide movement dedicated to ending poverty. We will be known everywhere for our unshakable commitment to the dignity of people.


Sources / Guide to further reading (available online)


J.Shapiro, Strategic planning, at: http://www.civicus.org/news-and-resources/toolkits/229-strategic-planning

C.McNamara, Basics of developing visión, misión and value statements, at: http://managementhelp.org/strategicplanning/mission-vision-values.htm

National Minority Aids Council, Strategic planning, at: http://www.nmac.org/pdf/strategic%20planning.pdf

USAID, Fundamentals of NGO Financial Sustainability, at: http://www.abtassociates.com/reports/NGOSustainability.pdf

WWF, Who we are, About WWF, at: http://www.worldwildlife.org/who/index.html

Amnesty International, Amnesty International´s Statute, at: http://www.amnesty.org/en/who-we-are/accountability/statute

Transparency International Deutschland e.V., A "Statement of Vision, Values and Guiding Principles" for Transparency International, at: http://www.transparency.de/A-Statement-of-Vision-Values.582.0.html

Oxfam International,  Oxfam Purpose and Beliefs, at: http://www.oxfam.org/en/about/what/purpose-and-beliefs

Care, about Care, at: http://www.care.org/about/index.asp