Mission statements

From Cultivate.Coop

This page will provide an explanation of a co-op business’s mission statement, a key aspect of strategic planning. A mission statement is a first step to defining a co-op’s reason for existence, often to meet an identified need. Any entity, from a church to individual can benefit from articulating a mission statement but this document focuses on co-ops.

What is a mission statement?

A mission statement embodies a co-op’s philosophies, goals, ambitions and way of life. Any entity operating without a mission statement runs the risk of wandering through the world without having the ability to verify that it is on its intended course.

Mission statements can explore the co-op’s morals, strategic influence, geography or expected growth. Frequently the mission is supported by a set of values that define the standards and direct the mission’s implementation.

A mission differs from the vision, in that the vision outlines what the organization wants to be with a focus on the future. A mission is the starting point for any director, manager or employee evaluating a strategic decision.

Most often, a new co-op starts by drafting their vision and it will guide the mission statement and the rest of the strategic plan.

Frequently in established co-ops, the existing missions will guide the vision statement and the rest of the strategic plan. Co-ops must know its fundamental purpose. It is important to keep the desired result in sight from the start.

Mission statements ought to:

  • Distinguish the co-op from all other entities
  • Serve as a framework to evaluate business activities
  • Express and define the reason for the co-op’s existence, what it does and aspires
  • Be limited enough to exclude some ventures but also allow for creative growth
  • Motivate and inspire commitment and support
  • Be free of industry jargon
  • Be clearly stated and easy to understand
  • Be short and simple enough so everybody in the co-op can remember and repeat

Sample Mission Statements

Note how these statements reflect the purpose, business and values of the respective co-op.

  • Sunshine Propane

To be the best, full service Propane Company in the North Olympic Peninsula

  • Group Health Co-op

To design, finance and deliver high-quality health care

  • REI

We inspire, educate and outfit for a lifetime of outdoor adventure and stewardship

  • Oregon Woodland Co-op

We serve the Oregon woodland community by providing services and assistance through the power of cooperative actions of our members

  • Farmers Cooperative Creamery

To supply top quality milk, butter and powder products, operate an efficient manufacturing plant, create an enjoyable work place, and generate the highest dividends possible for our member/owners

  • InterTribal Bison Co-op

Restoring buffalo to Indian Country to preserve our historical, cultural, traditional and spiritual relationship for future generations

  • Organic Valley

To create and operate a marketing cooperative that promotes regional farm diversity and economic stability by the means of organic agricultural methods and the sale of certified organic products.

  • Olympia Food Co-op

To contribute to the health and well-being of people by providing wholesome foods and other goods and services, accessible to all, through a locally-oriented, collectively managed, not-for-profit cooperative organization that relies on consensus decision making

See Also

For more information


This article originally adapted with permission from the Northwest Cooperative Development Center: