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03. Values

Ideas to help you grow in the area of values.

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Understand: Having clear and transparent goals, missions and values allows us to be purposeful in philanthropy and facilitates accountability with communities and stakeholders. 

  1. Staff and board know the mission statement and guiding values of the organization. We engage in discussions and educational activities to learn how to practice our values in our current community context.
  2. We understand that nonprofits operate with specific charitable purposes that guide their work. We understand that an organization’s charitable purpose and its finances create a double bottom line of mission and money.
  3. We understand the relationship between the type of organization we are (e.g. a private family foundation, a corporate foundation, a community foundation, a public charity, etc) and our organization’s values.
  4. We understand that our individual values are not necessarily the same as our organization’s values; we assess our individual alignment with and roles in carrying out the organization’s values.
  5. We understand the legal context of values embedded in our organization’s founding documents and mission statement. We understand our legal obligations related to these statements, such as carrying out charitable activities as defined by the IRS, oversight of assets, etc.

Begin: Our missions and goals are clearly stated and are transparent to the community. We hold ourselves accountable to them. We periodically examine our missions and goals for relevance, impact and alignment to our values.

  1. We have a written mission statement, approved by our board.
  2. We publicly state our mission and guiding values, including the context, origin or history of these statements.
  3. Every three to five years, we engage in strategic discussions to assess the ongoing relevance of our mission and goals.
  4. We periodically review our governing documents and other donor instructions to determine whether they need to be amended or re-interpreted to meet changing community needs in ways that reasonably honor the donor’s intent. Should an amendment or change be needed, we consult with an attorney to ensure that any changes are permissible. Note: Generally not applicable to corporate foundations and public charities.
  5. We periodically review our grantmaking priorities and objectives to help ensure that our grantmaking remains relevant and responsive.
  6. We annually approve a budget that helps us achieve our goals and demonstrates a commitment to our organization’s mission and values.
  7. Staff and board conduct annual performance assessments to evaluate alignment between their work and the organization’s goals, values and mission.
  8. We ensure the board and staff remain aligned around mission and values through joint and parallel learning processes.
  9. We align our values and human resources through our organization’s workplace culture, hiring/onboarding processes, and compensation philosophy.

Aspire: We seek to understand and incorporate the values of our stakeholders and the communities we serve into our missions, values and goals. The community participates in examining our mission, values and goals for relevance, and holds us accountable to them.

  1. We engage the community in conversation about our organizational mission and values. We seek community input to understand whether they think our stated values and our practices are aligned.
  2. Through any strategic planning processes, we seek input from a mix of staff, board, volunteers, donors, employees, grantee partners and the broader community.
  3. We ask our community stakeholders about their values; we seek to understand differences and to include their values into our work.
  4. We align our values with all of our activities including grantmakinginvestingnetworkingmarketing, etc.
  5. We seek to understand the realities of our community stakeholders, to recognize shifting values and to respond appropriately to social change – as leaders or followers, as required of each situation.
  6. Broad input allows us to effectively set future goals and priorities, with greater buy-in. Therefore, we remain open to hearing the voices of unfunded community members alongside active nonprofit grantee partners.