What is a mission-driven company?

Mission-driven company

Mission-driven companies work beyond the business or corporate purpose of earning profits and seek to change the world for the better in some way. These companies are committed to solving social problems and demonstrate responsibility for supporting positive change. Instead of leaving the work of solving social and environmental issues to governments or non-profit organizations, mission-driven companies engage their employees, communities, and stakeholders in addressing challenges.

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Most companies have a mission statement that highlights their business goals and how they earn a profit. However, being a mission-driven company means more than having a written mission statement. 

Some of the best mission-driven companies include:

  • Patagonia
  • Trader Joe’s
  • Kiva
  • Donors Choose
  • DoSomething
  • Rothy’s
  • Bombas

Ultimately, mission-driven companies balance profit with purpose. They offer outstanding products and services and create long-term value for their stakeholders by establishing a transparent and trustworthy brand that prioritizes societal improvements and stands the test of time.

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Mission vs. purpose 

There’s often confusion between a mission-driven company and a purpose-driven one—some people use the terms interchangeably.

However, there are some subtle differences to note. A mission is the company’s goal, or what it wants to accomplish. The purpose is the reason for the goal. A good example of a mission-driven company is Toms: Founder Backe Mycoskie has said that the company’s mission is to sell shoes, but the purpose is to provide free shoes to people in need.

The most effective mission-driven companies are led by individuals who understand the what and the why, and use them as guideposts for every decision and action. 

For-profit vs. nonprofit

Another common misconception about mission-driven companies is that they’re nonprofits. Many of the top mission-driven companies are for-profit, as earning revenue helps them remain more sustainable in the long term. Mission-driven for-profit companies sell products and services to support their purpose, but they are not charities. They don’t qualify for tax-exempt status, grants, or other funding. 

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Characteristics of mission-driven companies 

Mission-driven organizations share several vital characteristics that define their approach to everything.

Community building

Mission-driven organizations go beyond a brand and work to establish genuine relationships with their customers and the communities they serve. They aim to create authentic and meaningful conversations and experiences that support progress toward the mission.


Mission-driven companies prioritize real experiences, lifestyles, and customer feedback. They don’t rely on slick marketing campaigns or unsubstantiated claims. Instead, they prefer user-generated content and customer feedback to ensure authentic messaging.


A mission-driven company provides unparalleled clarity into its operations, including sourcing and production methods, environmental impact, community activities, and more. Because many mission-driven companies offer premium products and services, consumers want assurance that the company provides exactly what it promises. 


Consumers are significantly more likely to view mission-driven companies as “human,” not soulless corporations, because they focus on storytelling to forge deeper emotional connections with their audience.

Other identifying characteristics of mission-driven companies include:

  • Actions that support their beliefs, i.e., they walk the walk.
  • Products and services specifically designed to foster positive change.
  • A straightforward and comprehensive narrative about the who and why of the business. 
  • Prioritizing societal benefits over profits. 
  • Supporting employees in their personal growth and matching work with their passions. 
  • Focusing on why and how work is done.
  • Fulfilled employees who feel empowered and understand that they’re a part of something bigger than themselves. 
  • Effective approaches to measurement to ensure progress toward the mission.

The importance of trust in a mission-driven environment

To meet their social or environmental change goals, mission-driven companies need to establish trust with their audience. Successful organizations keep their word and provide opportunities for customers to make a measurable difference. They connect on a deeper level, showing loyalty driven by a commitment to community and a desire to be part of something that makes the world better. 

How working for a mission-driven company benefits employees

When a business puts its mission at the center of everything they do, strategic direction and leadership improvements also benefit employees. Working for a mission-driven company provides several advantages. 

A strong company culture

Mission-driven organizations typically hire individuals who embody the mission, which helps jobseekers get a sense of the type of people who work there and what’s expected of them if and when they come on board. When the mission is clear, workers can better align themselves with companies where they will fit in and make a meaningful contribution. 

Improved clarity

Mission-driven companies have clear processes and touchstones for decision-making. The mission is an objective point of guidance that helps employees feel more empowered and competent when prioritizing work, making decisions, and planning. The right choice always supports the mission. 

More fulfilling work

The best mission-driven companies provide team members with a sense of purpose and help them feel like their work matters. They have a greater feeling of fulfillment, which often translates into higher job satisfaction, less turnover, and better morale.

About Oyster

Oyster is a global employment platform designed to enable visionary HR leaders to find, hire, pay, manage, develop, and take care of a thriving distributed workforce. Oyster lets growing companies give valued international team members the experience they deserve, without the usual headaches and expense.

Oyster enables hiring anywhere in the world—with reliable, compliant payroll, and great local benefits and perks.