Connecting Culture and Values

| by Katie Weeks

If you want to know what your organization's culture is, ask your newest employee, volunteer, or participant. People new to your organization have an easier time identifying what makes your culture unique.

For better or worse, culture is part of every organization. But what is culture and how do we “live into" it? There are many definitions of culture but the one that resonates most with me is:

“Culture is an energy force that becomes woven through thinking, behavior, and identity of those within the group.”  - Debra Thorsen

Culture can be visible like a dress code, how relationships are manifested, vocabulary that is used, and organizational traditions.  Culture can also be invisible, such as unspoken rules of behavior, philosophies, attitudes, or organizational or performance standards.

Culture is an energy force that you must keep feeding.

One of my clients, who has an extremely positive organizational culture, talks often and intentionally about the board and staff being the “flame tenders” of their organizational culture. They work hard to maintain a positive culture and they connect to their core values at every opportunity.

Culture is part of every organization.  This is why aligning your personal values with organizational values are so critical to being successful in the nonprofit sector.

As one of the newer members of the Armstrong McGuire team, our company’s core values, which help us put words to our culture, resonate with me on a personal level. The Armstrong McGuire values are directly aligned with my personal values. When this alignment happens, the fit isn’t forced; it is reinforced.

For 15 years, Armstrong McGuire has been serving the nonprofit community. And each year, as a team we intentionally look at our values and confirm or adjust them to ensure we are all aligned and truly “living into” them.  Our values include:

Integrity: We don’t believe in one-size-fits-all solutions. We carefully analyze your needs and goals and develop a customized plan to guide you beyond the short-term fix to meaningful long-term impact. 

Experience: Our team comes from nonprofit backgrounds, so we understand the what, why, and how of your work. Grounded in nonprofit fundamentals and best practices, we incorporate the latest research and thinking to empower you to meet your goals.

Relationships: One of the most important considerations in selecting counsel is the value placed on understanding the passion behind the work of staff, board members, and donors. We seek to fully understand your mission and those who support it.

Results: We have hundreds of success stories of new leaders being hired, millions of dollars raised, boards and volunteers energized, and successful plans implemented. Everything we do – from recruiting a talented leader and delivering outstanding board training to developing a winning strategic plan and creating an unstoppable fundraising campaign – is all about helping you help others.

Integrity, experience, relationships, and results. Those are all things I can get behind and support!

What are your personal core values? What is your organizational culture? And how do those things intersect? When was the last time you talked about culture and core values with intention?  


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