Creating a strong purpose creates a strong committee or club

Understand the value of purpose statements for your board, committee, council or club.

Every board, committee, council and club needs to have a clear purpose or objective to be able to conduct business in an efficient manner.  Having a clear purpose helps the group stay on target when daily operations, different personalities and agendas steer them in a different direction.

The purpose statement should be clearly outlined in the by-laws as the second article. For example: Article I: Name, Article II: Purpose.

Michigan State University Extension’s purpose is: Michigan State University Extension helps people improve their lives through an educational process that applies knowledge to critical issues, needs and opportunities.

Michigan 4-H programs have a solid purpose. Our mission is to create non-formal, experiential education opportunities designed to connect in-school learning with out-of-school time activities that help youth thrive in a complex and changing world. These purposes provide a good understanding of why the organization exists and what its basic goals are. In addition to the purposes above, Michigan 4-H also utilizes the 4-H Guiding Principles. A basic summary of these principles are:   

  • Youth develop positive relationships with adults and peers.
  • Youth are physically and emotionally safe.
  • Youth are actively engaged in their own development.
  • Youth are considered participants rather than recipients in the learning process.
  • Youth develop skills that help them succeed.
  • Youth recognize, understand and appreciate multiculturalism.
  • Youth grow and contribute as active citizens through service and leadership.

The guiding principles help to define the goals and objectives of Michigan 4-H programs.

The Michigan 4-H Guiding Principles highlight the importance of youth involvement with decision-making in Michigan 4-H. Purpose statements should highlight the importance of youth development, youth leadership goals, county or project specific goals.

Example purpose

The Clover County 4-H Council’s purpose is to help our 4-H Members to:

  • Develop life skills such as, but not limited to, leadership, initiative, self-reliance, sportsmanship and other desirable character traits.
  • Prepare for citizenship responsibilities through working in groups and supporting community projects and activities.
  • Develop and support 4-H youth in their project areas.
  • Youth develop positive relationships with adults and peers.
  • Youth are physically and emotionally safe.
  • Youth are considered participants rather than recipients in the learning process.
  • Youth develop skills that help them succeed.
  • Youth recognized, understand and appreciate multiculturalism.
  • Youth grow and contribute as active citizens through service and leadership.

This is just one sample, as there are many ways, to write a purpose. However, the best practice is to keep it as clear and concise as possible. When developing a purpose always consider putting all seven of the 4-H Guiding Principles into your purpose either as the simple list outlined in the beginning of this document or written within one of the bulleted items within your purpose.   

Having a strong purpose is a great start to your advisory committees and clubs. After a purpose statement is created and agreed upon, the next step is to develop a complete set of clear bylaws as well. For help in developing bylaws for a committee or council, refer to the Michigan 4-H Advisory Groups Bylaws Template. For help with developing bylaws for a club, refer to the Michigan 4-H Advisory Groups 4-H Club ByLaws: Sample Template.

Other tools you may find helpful when developing a committee or club can be found in the 4-H Advisory Toolkit, or email the Leadership Civic Engagement work team at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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