How to Create an Inspired Nonprofit Company Culture

February 13, 2017

Company Culture

Culture is the foundation and embodiment of your organization. An effective nonprofit company culture demonstrates the collective understanding of your nonprofit by all those involved, including leadership, staff, volunteers, and the community served.

Good company culture is not just a fun workplace with perks. Culture is defined intentionally and must be actively maintained by leadership, requiring work and consistency. The trade-off is that your nonprofit’s culture can give your staff a motivating sense of purpose. The better your company culture, the greater the potential for your nonprofit to positively impact the community.

Here are some key factors in developing and maintaining your nonprofit’s culture:

Your whole team should be on board with your nonprofit’s core values.

Your nonprofit’s values should be well-established and line up with the actions your leadership and staff take on a day-to-day basis. Shared core values can include something as essential as what it means to be a good person, but can also relate to the way money is used within the organization, the company’s philosophy on work-life balance, and how to measure impact and success. 

Everyone needs a clear understanding of your nonprofit’s mission.

Your mission ties your nonprofit’s core values together. A clear mission statement acts as a guide to help the members of your organization make critical decisions. It also serves to remind your team of the higher purpose of their support for your organization. At a nonprofit, members of your team are not just working a rote job — they have an important goal, outlined by your mission.

Leadership should take an active role in defining culture.

Culture does not just happen on its own. Leadership is very important in shaping the nature of your nonprofit’s culture, especially in establishing an overall sense of morale. Leadership is in charge of determining the ways in which your staff works (independently or collaboratively), scheduling, work hours, work-life balance, the physical environment of your nonprofit’s workspace, communication methods and transparency, making clear to staff what their responsibilities are, and other systems that pertain to the goal of working toward your nonprofit’s mission. The best leadership is open to receiving feedback, and gives opportunities for staff to feel appreciated and talk about their achievements to the team.

Your staff should be treated with thorough consideration.

Treatment of staff is crucial to a thriving company culture, since it impacts the quality of how your employees work. Just as your staff cares about the success of your nonprofit, they, too, should feel valued. To ensure this feeling, your team should be clear about company policies and have solid internal communication methods. Leadership should demonstrate that the professional and personal growth and happiness of employees matters to the company, since that will ultimately lead to better work performance and commitment to your nonprofit’s mission. Don’t thoroughly discourage failure, or your employees will be dissuaded from taking the innovative risks required to make your nonprofit succeed.

With a quality company culture, your staff and volunteers will feel motivated to do their best work. Creating and maintaining your company’s culture is a real task- it will not just happen successfully on its own. A successful company culture is dependent on finding out what all members of your nonprofit want, and leadership should take charge in ensuring that the interests of those involved with the company are met. Have an outlet for receiving continuous and open feedback about the company so your team feels heard and empowered. Encourage your staff to take risks, and honest mistakes should be treated with compassion, while failures can be considered positive learning experiences. Let your team know their value and the impact of their successes.

What does your nonprofit do to maintain its company culture? What core values do you uphold? Let us know in the comments! 

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