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The Importance of Identifying a Nonprofit’s Core Values

The Importance of Identifying a Nonprofit’s Core Values

As a nonprofit organization, your goal is to positively influence people’s lives. Every nonprofit has an important mission, but how do you accomplish it? First, you need to define your nonprofit’s core values so that your organization is clear on its mission and what it stands for.

So, to help you understand your nonprofit’s core values and how you can use them to define its mission statement, communicate with community members, and attract donors, keep reading.

What are Nonprofit Values?

Nonprofit core values are the basics of why your organization exists. They act as a compass for everything that your organization does and is by guiding and setting the direction for how it operates.

For a nonprofit organization to succeed, it must be able to identify its core values, communicate them through its mission statement, and fully understand their relevance for the community they serve.

To get a clearer idea, here are a few examples of common nonprofit core values:

  • Integrity
  • Empowerment
  • Innovation
  • Community
Nonprofit values - community

Why is Identifying Nonprofit Values Important?

Nonprofit core values represent the essential, unchanging values of your organization. By identifying them, your organization will get a better understanding of what it stands for, what it believes in, and, just as importantly, what it doesn’t.

So, let’s take a closer look at some of the benefits of identifying your nonprofit values.

creating Nonprofit’s Culture

Develop your Nonprofit’s Culture

Creating a culture based on your nonprofit’s core values within your organization is a huge benefit and leads to success. When everyone in your organization – leaders, staff, volunteers, and community members – share like-minded habits, values, attitudes, and ideas, it’s easier to focus on how to achieve your nonprofit goals together. 

Reduce Stress and Simplify Prioritizing

Non profit values help setting priorities

When you clearly identify your nonprofit’s core values, your organization benefits from reduced stress levels, as well as finding it easier to set priorities. This is due to the fact that everyone is on the same page from the get-go, sharing a common purpose, so there’s less chance of swerving off track.

Make your Nonprofit Values Known to All

Send a strong message by making it clear what your nonprofit stands for and what it doesn’t support. This is crucial to gaining support, attracting donors, hiring new staff and volunteers, and cultivating a thriving workplace culture.

Spread the Word

By effectively connecting people with a common mission through your nonprofit’s core values, your organization can successfully create a strong, self-aware community. Profitable fundraising and powerful communities often go hand in hand, so make sure to start laying the groundwork now.  Remember that if your nonprofit fails to identify with the community they wish to serve, your causes will suffer accordingly.

Communicate your values

How to Develop Nonprofit Values

Nonprofits are often confused about what their core values should be. Your nonprofit’s values will shape the type of organization you want to build and the people who will work for and support you. The mission, vision, and nonprofit values statement serves as a foundation for organizations across the spectrum. So, how do you effectively develop your nonprofit core principles?

Ask Questions

One of the most valuable tools you can use to identify your nonprofit’s core values is a simple question survey. It’s useful to ask:

Question your self to find your values
  • What important decisions has your organization made recently?
  • What was the driving force behind these decisions?
  • How would you describe your nonprofit team? What characterizes a great team?
  • What words best capture the essence of your entire organization?

Asking questions about your nonprofit can help gain insights into your organization’s core values and identity and engage better with the people it serves. It’s important to understand that nonprofit organizations may have different experiences with these questions depending on their size, mission scope, and audience. Still, many nonprofits have adopted this tool as an appropriate way to identify their core principles so that they can better apply them in their day-to-day activities.

Listen, Share, and Self-Reflect

When brainstorming a list of nonprofit values with your team, it’s essential to:

  • Listen: Create a safe place where everyone can speak honestly and frankly about their interpretation of your nonprofit core values. Remember that the more open your organization is to listening to others’ ideas and opinions, the closer you’ll get to a sincere grasp of your nonprofit’s values. 
Brainstorming to find your nonprofit values
  • Share: Encourage your leadership, staff, volunteers, and community members to share their experiences, which have helped mold how they might describe your nonprofit and its team. 
  • Self-reflect: Promoting self-reflection within your team when defining your nonprofit values is a great way for them to get to know themselves better and discuss topics that previously they may not have voiced. It improves emotional self-awareness and values integrity.

Create Organizational Pillars

Once you have chosen the words that best communicate your nonprofit’s core values, it’s time to define them. Creating keywords (pillars) and then core statements for each one, for example, Teamwork, Generosity, or Equity and Inclusion. This is a crucial step in identifying your nonprofit values, as it guarantees that your entire organization shares the same understanding of what each value stands for. 

Following this process, ensure that your nonprofit core values remain a living part of your organization. Have reminders throughout your community that help people know what you stand for. Done effectively, your organization will feel a sense of invigoration, and it’ll become part of your nonprofit culture and be integrated into daily activities. 

Organizational Pillars

Putting Nonprofit Values into Action

Once you’ve defined your core values, how do you put these values into action? 

  • Design a decision-making approach that’s based on your core values. Make sure everyone in the organization is trained on how it works and keep it center stage whenever a difficult decision needs to be taken.
staff meeting
  • Use your nonprofit’s core values to hire staff, volunteers, and board members. During the interview process, use various tools to evaluate their alignment with your nonprofit values.
  • Broadcast your nonprofit’s value statement clearly on your organization’s website, donation and fundraising pages.
  • Be open to feedback from staff, volunteers, donors, and community members to ensure your organization stays focused and on track with your values.


Defining and living by your nonprofit’s core values is essential to success. The first step in establishing your organization’s values is to determine what your organization stands for. Formulate these values before you begin any type of fundraising or outreach efforts because they will play a crucial role in determining whether or not people will continue donating and supporting your nonprofit.

Nico Caceres

About Nico Caceres

Nico is the Customer Success Specialist at DoJiggy. Originally from Bogota, Colombia, he can provide support in Spanish or English. He is starting his career in the nonprofit industry, and is passionate about soccer and salsa music which he practices in his free time.

See other posts from Nico Caceres