Creating and implementing your organization’s core values is now a standard exercise for for-profit and nonprofits alike.
Over the last decade, we’ve become familiar with companies that set clear and articulated values and then make decisions based on those values.
In fact, you’ve probably read the recent news that Patagonia founder, Yvon Chouinard, just forfeited his ownership in the company to a trust so that 100% of the profits are used to fight climate change - living out his company’s value (and his own) of “using business to protect nature”.
A less drastic example, and one you may have personally experienced, is Trader Joe’s value of “Customer Service That Wows”. If you’ve ever been inside a Trader Joe’s and asked a team member for help finding a certain item, you’ll know that the team member will stop what they are doing and walk you to the item (not just give you an aisle number like you might experience at other grocery stores).
So how do you align these values (and your own) with your fundraising practices?
It’s certainly easier to build a successful fundraising program when your personal core values align with your organization's. But even if there is a disconnect between your values and those of your company, there are ways to better align your fundraising practices.
At Fundraising Sol, we ask two questions at the beginning of our work with clients, then revisit the questions throughout our time together. “How does fundraising feel right now?" and "How do you want it to feel?”
It is essential to take time to thoughtfully and honestly answer these two questions. This will allow you to determine if your values are aligned with your program and help you reset things (if possible) when they're not.
If fundraising for your organization feels chaotic, exclusionary, boring, or simply a bit “off” - it could be a sign that either the fundraising practices being implemented or your organization’s values aren’t in line with your own.
Identifying how you want fundraising to feel can also help pinpoint your own values. If you want it to feel transparent, respectful, courageous, or more inclusive, but it isn’t at the moment - pause, reflect, and see what opportunities exist to bring your practice and program into alignment with your values.
Where can you weave more financial transparency into your appeals or website?
How can the language and photos your organization uses maintain and promote ethical standards?
What does a courageous conversation with your donors/funder sound like?
How can you create a fundraising program that honors, uplift, and engages equally with every socio-economic group?
Be focused and patient.
Change rarely happens overnight! And you may find that change, in a way that aligns with your values, isn’t possible. On the bright side, you might just find that with dedication and courage you can build a powerful fundraising practice and program for yourself and your organization - bringing stability, authenticity, and closer to fulfilling your mission.
Looking for advice on aligning your values with your fundraising program?
Fundraising Sol provides affordable coaching calls for development professionals. Contact us at email@example.com to learn more!