The Difference Between a Purpose Statement & a Mission Statement

An organization states its purpose and mission for coming into existence.
An organization states its purpose and mission for coming into existence. (Image: Thomas Northcut/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Hardly a day goes by without someone mentioning the words "purpose" and "mission." You hear them during news broadcasts, in commercials and in video games, and read them in pamphlets and brochures. A purpose statement and a mission statement have derived from those words and are often used interchangeably. Once you take the time to ponder the meaning of those words, it becomes clear that a purpose statement and a mission statement carry distinct meanings.

Purpose Statement -- Definition

Used primarily to obtain a loan, a purpose statement is a written document that a borrower presents to a lender that gives the specific reason for the loan. A purpose statement written to request loans that are backed by securities contains an assurance that the borrower will follow the guidelines and rules established by the Federal Reserve. In life, an individual's purpose gives him a reason for taking action. An individual's inner drive or passion is his purpose. The same goes for an organization. An organization's purpose is the reason it came into being. An organization's purpose ultimately manifests its mission.

Purpose Statement -- Example

Private individuals, business owners and organizations applying for a loan or a grant, as in the case of a nonprofit organization, must submit a purpose statement. A private school administrator requesting a grant from a grant-writing organization may write: "The purpose of the grant is to help struggling families pay tuition and reduce their financial burden which could prevent their children from obtaining a quality private education."

Mission Statement -- Definition

A mission statement is an organization's written statement of its main reason for coming into being. It outlines what is important to the organization, its targeted market and how it plans to serve its market, indicates where the organization is headed and helps it to stay on track.

Mission Statement -- Example

A clear mission statement statement is clear and precise. Individuals, corporations, churches, teams and schools have mission statements that keep them focused and accountable in achieving their goals. For example, a nonprofit organization such as a senior citizen center may have a mission statement that reads: " The senior center exists to provide adults 55 years and older a meeting place where they can participate in activities that are designed to promote their health, enhance their creativity and encourage community involvement."

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