Week 4 - Mission, Vision, & Theory of Change


The inspiration for every great social enterprise is a solid mission - a reason for being. The vision is the great big, almost certainly unattainable goal for your organization. The theory of change is the planned process for achieving your mission. Overall, this is the lifeblood of any organization - it says why it exists, how it will solve the problem it recognizes, and why it is important for this problem to be solved.


  1. Housekeeping - Anything that's necessary to take care of beforehand.Ê(10 min).
  2. Introduction to Mission, Vision, and Theory of Change - Discuss definition of terms. Ê[20 min].
    • Mission - Refer to our Mission Statement guide for detailed information.
    • Vision - A single sentence that describes how the world will look after this problem is solved.
    • Theory of Change - Your theory of change is a tool that "describes a process of planned social change, from the assumptions that guide its design to the long-term goals it seeks to achieve.Ó [1]
  3. Case Study - Choose your favorite nonprofits, for-profits, foundations, and/or social enterprises and analyze their vision, mission, and theory of change. It might be hard to find organizations with a theory of change, and if that's the case, use the classroom as a means to create possible theories of change for these organizations. [60 min]. Use the last week's reading to jump-start the discussion on mission statements.
  4. Wrap Up - Spend some time discussing what are the key criteria necessary for a vision, mission, and theory of change. Do they need to be actionable? Should they be time bound? Is there a size when the mission is too big? Etc. [30 min].


No exercises for next week.


  • Case Study.

Next Week:

Next week we will introduce mission/vision and explain its importance in social enterprises in much greater detail. We will introduce the analysis of case studies to the class and explain their importance, especially in the young field of social entrepreneurship.


[1] Ford Foundation - Page online.

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