Meeting our mission, vision and values

After officially launching Terra Incognita in 2018, this year we wanted to formally define who we are and what we stand for: our mission, vision and values.

If you’ve worked with us, we hope you already have a good sense of our purpose and values, but for those who haven’t, we’re excited to share what we’re all about!

Putting our mission into words

Having seen the process of creating mission and vision statements in larger organisations – and the all-too-frequent arguments over adjective choice that can come with it – we wanted to keep the focus on defining the heart of Terra Incognita.

As an enterprise that believes strongly in the power of storytelling for positive change, we figured, what better way than to use stories to help define our mission?

Following this step-by-step guide to writing a mission statement by Nonprofit Hub, we began by brainstorming and sharing ‘stories’ about things were particularly proud of doing during the eight months since officially launching Terra Incognita. For example:

We collaborated with diverse judges, sponsors, bloggers, writers and designer to create an ebook that helps inspire readers to respect and conserve wildlife.

We found and promoted ethical birding tour operators who are working towards more sustainable, responsible tourism, who appreciated being recognised for their work.

Through Wildlife Blogger of the Year, we shared stories to inspire travel that respects wildlife, giving recognition to an international community of bloggers. 

Once we’d shared our stories with each other (via Skype screenshare!), we identified the most important bits in our stories:

  • Our cause – who, what, where – each time we referenced a specific person or place.
  • Our actions – what we do – each time Terra Incognita had taken action.
  • Our impact – positive changes – each time our work changed something for the better.

When we grouped parts of our stories together, we started to see themes emerging – like the word ‘community’. For example, our growing Eco-Blogger Network (now over 100 members!) has acted as a great source of inspiration, sounding board for new ideas and platform for collaboration. And we couldn’t have published an amazing eBook in a month without a diverse, talented community of people who contributed to the final product.

The themes we discovered were very similar to those we’d discussed when first creating Terra Incognita – but now they were back by real, positive achievements.

Our mission is to empower a global community that travels for good.

Defining our vision and values

Creating our vision statement was easy, because we just had to ask ourselves what kind of world we want to see in the future.

For us it’s: A world where tourism drives positive change for people and wildlife.

This vision is what drove us to launch Terra Incognita in the first place, and what drives us to put our time and energy into learning, growing and developing every week.

With our mission and vision statements complete, our values were left. Many of them had already appeared during the process of reflecting on the past year so we just had to choose the right words to describe them.

For example, we knew right from the start that we wanted to be completely transparent in our work – whether about our goals, our success and failures, our profits – or even the process of defining our mission, vision and values! But it’s not just a one-way street. Equally, we wanted to be open to ideas and feedback from others. So we chose the word ‘open’ to describe how we work.

Being dynamic was also key to our success this past year. Having just two founders meant that we had lots of flexibility and could brainstorm, research, trial and evaluate ideas quickly, without any barriers. If something wasn’t working, we could easily shift to an approach that would create more impact.

Our five core values are:

  • Open – We build trust through transparency; we’re open to new ideas.
  • Agile – We learn quickly to achieve our goals and create impact.
  • Collaborative We work with diverse communities to make things happen.
  • Optimistic We assume the best and are hopeful, encouraging and courageous.
  • Caring – We support and respect people on their journeys to travel for good.

With our mission, vision and values in mind, we’re now planning our objectives for the year ahead. While we have endless ideas that inspire us, we’re focussing on those projects most likely to advance our mission, that suit our skills and that excite us the most. Stay tuned for more about our upcoming projects!

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Do you have feedback or questions? Drop us a line at [email protected] – we’d love to hear from you!

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Main image by Ben White on Unsplash