How to Realign With Your Nonprofit’s Core Values
Core values are an essential aspect of running a nonprofit organization, because they provide the information that the outside world needs to know about what you stand for in the community. Core values help inform people about how your organization behaves from within and outside of itself. Like personal values, a nonprofit’s core values are meant to be ideas that are not static, but help define an identity with action.
Within our social enterprise, we have core values that help propel the company forward and are standards that each of our team members embodies when they’re dealing with each other, as well as the nonprofit partners with whom we do business. Our beliefs are as follows:
- Promoting happiness
- Pursuing innovation
- Creating community
- Delivering “WOWism”
- Pursuing growth
Realigning With Our Core Values
From time to time, it’s vital to reorient ourselves with our core values. Not too long ago, my executive team and I decided to do an “all hands” team meeting, and we decided that the perfect place to begin was with an exercise that would remind us all about the core values of our social enterprise. But even more importantly, the experience would help all of us learn about what our core values meant in action, beyond just understanding them in words and as ideas.
Reality TV and Core Values
Our vice president of marketing led us through an exercise that I would suggest you try out with your team.
She asked everyone in the group to name three people in our group whom they would each choose to represent us on a reality television show, because they best represented our core values. We asked everyone to stand up and orally share their answers amongst the team.
At the start, there was a bit of awkwardness, but as things got going, people spoke from the heart and in their personal style, which was sometimes funny.
3 Objectives for the Core Values Exercise
When we started doing the exercise, we informed the entire team that the goal of the activity was to realign our group with our core values and from that, there were three objectives.
- We wanted to promote within our team self-reflection as each person thought about who best represented our company.
- The management team wanted to offer everyone private and confidential coaching in the case that any individual felt that they wanted to have a follow-up discussion.
- We wanted to reward the three people who best embodied our core values, so that others could also see that in the future they could be the ones who would be rewarded.
After the exercise, which took time as we all reflected, shared and listened to each other, we experienced a re-energized sense of purpose and engagement within our social enterprise.
People gained greater clarity about what our core values meant, and they had three leaders whom they could
emulate in the pursuit of what we want to
demonstrate to the public concerning our company.
How to Create a Core Values Team-Building Exercise
If you’re seeking a way to get your team engaged in something that will create a positive dialogue, engagement and get your team refocused on what your nonprofit represents, then there are a few easy things that you can do to have a successful team building event, as we did within our group.
- Always make it a point to have your core values emanate throughout your organization in ways, large and small, such as discussing them at team meetings.
- Select someone on your team to become the facilitator when you decide to do a team-building exercise that includes realigning with your core values.
- Decide on an exercise. You can do the one we did with the reality TV show, or you can research one of
- Create a safe space where everyone can openly and candidly speak to how and who represents your nonprofit best regarding its core values.
- After the exercise, make sure to keep your core values as a living part of your nonprofit and have reminders that help people know what you stand for in your
If you take the time to go through a team-building exercise with your group concerning your core values and then ensure that it’s something that is part of your organizational culture every day, you’ll see how important they become not only for you, but also for the work you do in your community. Additionally, your core values will help you attract the people that you want as supporters and donors to your charity.
Wayne Elsey is the founder and CEO of Elsey Enterprises. Among his various independent brands, he is also the founder and CEO of Funds2Orgs, a social enterprise that helps nonprofits, schools, churches, civic groups, individuals and others raise funds, while helping to support micro-enterprise (small business) opportunities in developing nations and the environment.
You can learn more about Wayne and obtain free resources, including his books on his blog, Not Your Father’s Charity.