How does your organization perceive its core values?
It’s important for organizations to have a set of values to guide and live by, communicating your priorities to donors and your staff. These values should reflect the essence of your nonprofit and motivate everything you do.
Often, organizations spend more time discussing what these values are rather than how it plays into their day-to-day. What does it look like within your donors, volunteers, board and staff? Actions speak louder than words, and if you find that your values and actions are not aligned, you may be experiencing a conscience crisis.
How to Develop Your Core Values
The first step is to gather all of your organizational leaders, including staff from different departments within your organization, or consider sending out an employee-wide survey to include everyone in the process. You should be asking questions like:
- What is guiding your decision-making?
- What words would you use to describe your team?
- What makes a great team?
- How would you describe your nonprofit’s personality?
This process should focus on specific words that resonate with you, which you can then group into themes. For example, if you’re using words like honest, genuine and trustworthy, you may want to have integrity as a theme and define that within your organization.
For example, this could mean you always need to value the truth, even if it doesn’t align with your goals. Or you decide to share metrics with your team regularly so everyone is on the same page with the state of your data. Decide what each value means to you and how it will play within your organization.
How to Avoid a Conscience Crisis Within Your Organization
So you have a terrific list of values and are trying to incorporate them into your nonprofit but find that your staff just isn’t motivated. People seem confused about executing these values, and there appears to be low morale amongst your team.
This is when you should connect on these values and consider using the following ideas to help center your organization.
Lead with a People-First Culture
A people-first culture means valuing profits over people. It is centred around your employees and making sure they feel supported, engaged and connected to your organization. The more aligned your staff is with your values, the more productive and efficient your organization will become.
This approach is centred around collaboration, empathy and goal setting, and if you would like to learn more we have a whole blog about that here!
Actively Listen To Your Constituents
Be aware of how people perceive your organization. Discover how people outside of your organization perceive you and ask yourself if it aligns with how you view your organization internally. You always want to lead with action, which means being aware of your organization's external and internal perceptions.
Consider performing an omnibus survey on a wide variety of things your constituents may care or be thinking about. You could ask them to rank the work you do, what other charities they support or additional personal details about their interests. Be careful to include both online and print options and segment your supporters to provide another level of analysis. Report back to your supporters and indicate how you will be putting their feedback into action. Strongly consider importing the data into your donor management CRM (like Driven!), to keep the data in context. This allows you to leverage the data in the future to continue to make data-driven decisions.
There are also social listening tools that can be great to get a sense of how your organization or your mission is perceived online.
Once you understand how people perceive you, you can start taking action that better aligns your actions with your values. If constituents feel a lack of trust, consider making financial information available to the public. The goal is to become an active listener, capture the data and feedback in your digital platforms and display change through action rather than words.