Mark Titi is a guest contributor for Nonprofit Hub, and the founder of Wobbly Nonprofit.
Why do you look so darn surprised, young fella? You want to know if those are real peaches and carrots we are serving up? Well, we tell everyone that our core values are sweeter than a jar of tasty baby food. No artificial flavoring or preservatives for us. Yep, only natural is good enough.
“Well done is better than well said.”
Core values get talked up a lot. And they get publicized a lot too. In the Annual Report. On the website. In the employee handbook. In appeal letters. On the refrigerator in the lunch room. Even on flashy, modern billboards. Plenty of sizzle but sometimes a lousy steak.
You see, nonprofit organizations can’t just cook up core values to make themselves look attractive. Those values must be consistently exemplified over the long-term by the individuals connected to the mission. And, when they aren’t, it will be easy to see through the smoke screen.
“He that will not apply new remedies must expect new evils; for time is the greatest innovator.”
Organizations change like the seasons. Their cultures are a clear reflection of the very people associated with them at some point in time. But, as time goes on, it is expected that the people who are the face of the organization will change. They move on to new responsibilities and other priorities elsewhere. External stakeholders will change too. New projects will replace old ones and ways of doing things will change.
Nevertheless, amidst this ongoing process of renewal, one thing remains constant. Nonprofits continue to be faced with a tidal wave of new issues and challenges. Adding to this backdrop, decision-making time is shrinking. Emerging issues have an increasing need for rapid resolution. Absent such remedies, the entire mission can be placed in jeopardy.
You may be reading this post as a nonprofit staff member, volunteer, board member or other stakeholder in the mission. Regardless of your unique position, it becomes each individual’s responsibility to focus on six important values. Sure, we all fall short from time to time. That is to be expected. But the need to walk the walk is critical.
So, with that in mind, here are six authentic values that have the potential to produce outcomes beyond your expectations. In an unassuming way, I challenge you to put them into practice and watch them go viral within your own small nonprofit organization.
“Discovery consists of seeing what everybody has seen, and thinking what nobody has thought.”
Take the time to explore your curiosities about stakeholders, their thought processes, beliefs and visions. Take a look at old problems and scrapped ideas from diverse vantage points. Don’t conduct your examinations to simply be nosy. Rather, aim to earnestly learn more about the environment surrounding you.
Act as a sponge. Listen more than you talk. Fully absorb each moment, each action and each message. Obtain the knowledge you will need to ignite your passion. That includes the “obvious.” Awaken the magic and see the possibilities to make a difference.
“Never let your zeal outrun your charity. The former is but human, the latter is divine.”
Let your passion be contagious but don’t allow the excitement to blind you from the charitable acts that are the essence of your nonprofit. Zeal can provide the fuel to continue moving forward. Always bring a burning desire to what you do.
Be quick to recover like a rubber band that has been stretched to the limit but did not break. Your flexibility will help you to successfully navigate difficult situations. Fearlessly move into uncharted waters through innovation. Just be sure to always know your boundaries.
“Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness.”
~Martin Luther King, Jr.
Find a higher meaning by putting the needs of others ahead of your own. Do your work in a true spirit of service. Openly make suggestions that incentivize you-and others around you- to make greater use of your altruistic capital. But, in the end, do it because you really want to.
Create good vibes with simple acknowledgements and tokens of appreciation. Start a grassroots effort to make gratitude a standard in your nonprofit. Then brush up on how to accept a compliment. Thank you.
Are you willing to hold yourself accountable to be better in 2014? Let these values forge your way, but not on paper alone. Patiently develop the tranquil lightness than can move you and your charity to higher ground. And, when you begin to experience the surprising outcomes, be sure to share them with a comment below.
Mark Titi is a guest contributor for Nonprofit Hub, the founder of Wobbly Nonprofit and authors the Leave Your Mark blog. He has developed the Multiplying Good program for small nonprofits. You can get your free copy of the program blueprint here.