Though it has become largely a day about cook-outs and fireworks, it should be much more.
There were values expressed in our Declaration of Independence. While we’ve seen great progress, there are too many values that we are still failing to honor. Sometimes even regressing.
So I’ve been thinking about my values lately. How would I describe what motivates me? How should that shape my work? What would those values mean in practice?
When was the last time your organization stopped to really consider your values?
Here’s why I ask.
I believe donors are increasingly looking for meaning. They give to change something or sustain something. They give to live their values.
And I believe organizations where values are clear and practiced daily attract staff and donors who feel inspired and do great work.
Donors are looking for a values match that lights their fire. Are you clear about what motivates your work?
Do you have a values statement?
Every organization has a mission statement. (Or should!)
Sometimes this is a succinct and moving statement that explains exactly why the organization exists and what it does.
And sometimes it’s written by a committee.
But you should also have a values statement. (And while there should be agreement about what your values are, please ask one good writer to put it together for you.)
Read more about why you need a values statement from my friend Vu Le. He also offers solid tips on creating one if you need one.
Is it clear and motivating?
Your values are the bedrock of your organization. They’re the “why” that illuminates your work.
My friend Gayle Gifford offers you an example of a values statement done right. Why is it so good? Because it defines shared beliefs. It aligns those beliefs to the work. And that means everyone is aligned with those beliefs. You better believe that makes for a much stronger organization!
Is it easy to find?
The very best statement can’t do its work if you hide it. Does it explain why you believe in your work? Then makes sure it can be seen.
Do your staff know what it is? Does it animate their work?
If you’re going to create and share a statement, your staff shouldn’t ignore it while they get on with their work. Like a mission statement, it shouldn’t be just words on a page.
So, forget the exact words – could your staff explain your organization’s values? Is everyone on the same page?
Talking about values can be hard.
Your values are emotional. They’re also critically important. In many cases, they require choices – what do you stand for? What do you not consider important enough?
But it’s a good conversation to have – and continue to revisit.
Because when everyone is aligned with the values you express, you do better work. You are better able to attract not just donors, but passionate supporters.
So to my U.S. friends, happy Independence Day.
I hope it doesn’t rain and you get to see some great fireworks. And I hope you’ll spend a moment thinking about the values we should share and how we can live them together.