Grantmaking guide booklets

Step 2. Vision, mission, values and operating principles

Giving Green: Guide to grantmaking

This is step 2 of 10 of the Giving Green grantmaking guide. For a hard copy of this guide, email

Decide on your vision, mission, values and operating principles. You may have this sorted out already. It could be part of your trust deed, or something you have discussed with your trustees or family.

Vision and mission statements should articulate the essence of your organisation’s beliefs and values and define its place in the world. They establish the long-term direction that guides every aspect of an organisation’s daily operations. A vision statement expresses an organisation’s far-reaching goal and reason for existence, while a mission statement provides an overview of plans to realise that vision by identifying the service areas, target audience and values and goals of the organisation.

Have you thought about what values and operating principles you want to work with in your giving? The examples below may give you some ideas of how other donors have answered these questions. If you have already done this, do you include environmental operating principles? Maybe it’s time to add something about the environment here. You might want to ensure that your foundation or the organisations that you fund operate on an environmentally sustainable basis. Go to the worksheet (see below) to get some guidelines about how you could achieve this.

It might be that you can’t settle on a final mission and your values and operating principles yet. Don’t worry. Keep moving through these steps and your mission and values will probably become clearer.

Examples of missions

The Thomas Foundation’s vision and mission

Our over-riding objective is to halt the decline in Australia’s native animals, plants and forests. Our mission is to support science-based conservation that contributes to the protection of Australia’s remaining species, and to generate new funds for this purpose.

The Rockefeller Family Fund’s environment program’s mission

Enact aggressive policies at the state and national levels to reduce carbon emissions. We help to bring diverse and compelling voices into the climate debate. We highlight the risks of coal burning power plants and mountain top removal coal mining. We support sound climate science while exposing those who distort it.

The Purves Environmental Fund’s mission

…advance, primarily through education of individuals and organisations, environmental sustainability and preservation of biodiversity.

The Christensen Fund’s mission

The Christensen Fund believes in the power of biological and cultural diversity to sustain and enrich a world faced with great change and uncertainty. We focus on the biocultural – the rich but neglected adaptive interweave of people and place, culture and ecology. Our mission is to buttress the efforts of people and institutions who believe in a biodiverse world infused with artistic expression and work to secure ways of life and landscapes that are beautiful, bountiful and resilient.

We pursue this mission through place-based work in regions chosen for their potential to withstand and recover from the global erosion of diversity. We focus on backing the efforts of locally-recognized community custodians of this heritage, and their alliances with scholars, artists, advocates and others. We also fund international efforts to build global understanding of these issues. These are challenging goals, so we seek out imaginative, thoughtful and occasionally odd partners to learn with. The Fund works primarily through grant making, as well as through capacity and network building, knowledge generation, collaboration and mission-related investments.

The worksheet has a list of values from Tracy Gary’s book Inspired Philanthropy. Go to the worksheet and circle the three main values that resonate with you. Add in some operating principles that help you become more environmentally sustainable.

Worksheet questions

  1. What is your vision?
  2. What is your mission?
  3. What are the three main values that are important to you or your organisation?
  4. What operating principles can you describe that will help you become more environmentally sustainable?

Proceed to step 3.