4 Ways Core Values Contribute to a Nonprofit’s Culture and Success
By: Melissa Lagowski
CEO, Founder and Queen Bee, Big Buzz Idea Group
As individuals, we each live by our own set of core values. These are the beliefs and ideas we use to shape our goals, guide our actions and ensure we stay on track. For nonprofits and businesses, creating a concrete set of core values is equally important. Much like our individual values, a nonprofit’s core values provide direction and guidelines for the organization itself as well as every person or entity it comes in contact with.
Why is identifying and communicating your nonprofit’s core values so important? With clear core values, you:
…set the stage for developing your organization’s culture. Culture—that is, the customs, values, attitudes and beliefs that make a community unique—is something not often talked about in the nonprofit world. But your organization’s culture is crucial to its success. Core values clearly communicate to everyone involved—leadership, staff members, volunteers, others in the community—what is expected and what is important within your nonprofit, which helps cultivate its culture.
…let others know what your organization stands for and what it won’t tolerate. You’ll send a clear message. This can help with building buy-in, attracting donors, recruiting new staff and volunteers, and fostering a vibrant workplace culture.
…work more cohesively. Everyone understands what it will take to move the organization forward. They can clearly recognize the actions and attitudes that make your nonprofit what it is, which will guide it to what it will become.
…create a community. You’ll bring people together and successfully connect them, both internally and externally. When everyone works under a common set of core values, they have a foundation to start from and shared beliefs to bond them together.
At Big Buzz Idea Group, we’ve established five “We Believe” statements that summarize our company and represent our core values. We broadcast them front and center on the homepage of our website AND in everything we do.
- We believe nonprofit organizations make the world a better place.
- We believe that the best long-term relationships are based on honesty, integrity and 100% transparency.
- We believe that it is an honor to partner and serve growing nonprofits.
- We believe that everyone should be part of a team that inspires them daily.
- We believe that life is better when you laugh daily!
These statements ladder up to our four pillars: teamwork, growth, gratitude and profitability. We think of these pillars as the “core” of our core values. We view these pillars as an essential need for each individual member of our team as well as our company as a whole and each nonprofit organization we serve.
Every person at Big Buzz works in alignment with our core values: We use them as a guide when we’re making decisions, taking on clients or working with other businesses. For us, ethics and integrity are important – especially since we’ve seen too many nonprofits get taken advantage of. We support the good work nonprofits do and we’re grateful to serve them. And in order to continue growing and doing our best work, we harness the power of teamwork, always striving to inspire one another and bring humor to our days.
The concept of core values can seem so basic and that’s why it’s often overlooked. When the day-to-day needs of an organization are so urgent, big-picture ideas like core values and culture get put on the back burner.
But outlining your nonprofit’s core values allows everyone to work more effectively. It’s worth taking some time to drill down to these basics and unite people first before moving forward. When we have a common set of core values to refer to, we can use it to guide our decisions, work as a team and ultimately, find greater success.