Creation of a Family Mission Statement

July 14th, 2015

A family mission statement creates a combined and unified expression that encapsulates your family’s ideals and goals. While it’s true that every family is different, high net worth families often dedicate a large portion of their family mission statement to examining the relationship between aspects like:

  • Wealth
  • Self-fulfillment
  • Individual initiative
  • Dependency, etc.

Preliminary Steps

The process of creating a family mission statement requires self-reflection, individual analysis and a discussion between all the members of the family to reach a consensus. Tasking participating members with creating their own personal mission statements is a good starting point.

Before you begin establishing your family mission statement, you and other family members should ponder these questions:

  • Importance – Why have you/your family decided to establish a family mission statement? What importance does it hold for each member? What goal do you hope it will accomplish? Apart from serving as a source of motivation, a family mission statement often helps family members learn more about themselves and each other.
  • Purpose – A family mission statement expresses a unified outline of how the individual viewpoints and aims of each of your family members can interlink. One important purpose is to reach a consensus on how the family will progress in the future, given each individual’s preference, like:
    • What you want your family to achieve
    • The principles and values you choose for governing family life
    • The vision you have for your family’s progress and future
  • Process – Each participant in your family mission statement will have their own views and objectives. As a preliminary, the process should also be discussed and decided upon, with questions about:
    • Participation – Which family members will be participating? What basis you will use for assigning weightage to each individual’s inputs? The process is often most successful when, especially in larger families, as many members as possible participate in the family mission statement. A key factor to consider is the roles that spouses and partners of your descendants may play in the future.The role that college-age members and teenagers play, both now and in the future, is also an important one, and one that families need to consider. A compromise of sorts can be adopted, allowing youngsters to participate in some of the meetings, or simply offering them an advisory role. There are, however, many families which allow them to participate in their full capacity.
    • Professional Advisors – Should the family mission statement formulation be limited to the participating members, or should you seek professional advisors’ opinions? If you decide on external advice, will advisors be included in all meetings, or should some be limited to only family members.
    • Conduct During the Discussions – How should you conduct discussions pertaining to the family mission statement’s substances, its inclusions and exclusions? Would the discussions be conducted as a single group which involves all the committees or participants? Who will head the discussions? Will there be multiple leaders?Larger families, like those with several generations of participants, often find conducting both plenary and committee discussions complicated. Modern communication aids like video conferencing or digital presentations can enable geographically or ethnically diverse families to co-ordinate multiple discussions.
  • Agenda, Rules and Procedures – Will each discussion focus on an agenda or multiple agendas? What, if any, will the rules of procedure be? How could these affect the implementation of your family mission statement and will they endure?To keep the peace and increase the productivity of meetings, some families reach an agreement encompassing matters like punctuality, decorum and curtailing interruptions (both external and conversational). The breadth of participation directly relates to the adherence and acceptance of the family mission statement.

Preparation of the Draft of the Family Mission Statement

Since there’s a lot that will be discussed, the proceedings will need to be documented before a draft can be created. Typically, one or more secretaries are appointed and tasked with the responsibility of taking notes to later distribute amongst the participants. Most families enlisting the aid of professional advisors also charge them with preparing part or all of the draft.

  • How will your family handle committing and writing down the family mission statement?
  • Will one member be tasked with drafting the statement for the others to review and comment, will you delegate the responsibility for each section individually or will a committee be assigned for drafting the entire statement?

What the Family Mission Statement Should Describe

  • The Purpose of the Family – The introduction of a family mission statement often lays out its intended purpose. More than aesthetic purposes, expressing the family’s aspirations can aid participants in focusing on the beliefs laid down by the statement, and their importance.
    • Fairly often, one key decision taken while discussing the statement’s purpose is establishing whether it may be amended in the future, and circumstances which govern the amendments.
    • Most families recognize the need for at least a portion, or certain ideologies expressed in the statement, to be expressed as timeless values that need to be preserved, even by future generations.
    • To ensure the mission statement remains in conformance with your family’s beliefs, revisiting it periodically may play a valuable role in preserving its essence.
  • The Family Itself (Literally, and Philosophically) – Your family can likely trace its roots or heritage to a patriarch or matriarch, perhaps with several thriving branches to the family tree.
    • Recounting the history of the founding fathers, or mothers, could be particularly useful in identifying the purposes of your family. Defining events in history and qualities that stand out should be the areas of focus.
    • Female descendants of your ancestors may have married and taken on their husband’s family names, leading to several different surnames. Recognize their distinct roles and consider the inclusion of distinct branches.
    • While it is often a sensitive subject, the place of descendants’ spouses or significant others could be included, both while the union lasts and after it ends.
  • The Family’s Values, Vision and PhilosophyA discussion on these all-important aspects is central to establishing the family mission statement. While drafting this key section, participating members should individually reflect on, or discuss as a group:
    • What makes your family unique?
    • What is it you value the most?
    • What do you wish for your descendants?
    • The greatest strengths of the family and its weaknesses
    • Cultural, material, spiritual or other wealth and how they relate
    • Your family’s fears and what you want to protect
    • How others perceive you and your position in the community

These are just a few of the considerations you need to make before establishing a family mission statement. Introspect and evaluate the morals and values you wish to lay down as a family for current and future generations. This plays a vital role in the effectiveness of the statement in encapsulating your family’s purpose.

pdf-icon Download the Family Mission Statement Specimen