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How to Create a Culture of Responsibility in Your Nonprofit

best practices board finances foundation fraud May 02, 2024

     Nonprofits are responsible for good stewardship of their resources including internal controls and the overall attitude toward how resources should be managed. So, how do you promote this in your nonprofits culture? Let's explore that today!

1. Leadership Commitment

     The first tip that I have for you in helping to create a culture of responsibility and good stewardship is to start with the leadership commitment. It is abundantly clear that a nonprofit's management of resources and commitment to stewardship starts with the tone at the top. Leadership will set the tone for this organization’s culture. Make sure you have a board that holds this value at the top of their list. Then employ staff, including your Executive leadership, that genuinely hold this same value as individuals. 

2. Define Your Standards for Stewardship

     Once you’ve assembled like-minded leadership with a commitment to stewarding resources well, the next step is to define, document and communicate your standards for stewardship. Articulate your core value in writing. What are your ethical standards related to how you steward resources? How will you be transparent and accountable? How will these finances be maintained? 

3. Repeat What Matters

     Don’t assume anything. Repeat what matters! Solid training and education should be continual and ongoing. Yes, it should be a part of the onboarding process. But it should also be repeated on a regular basis. The goal is to continually equip and remind our staff and volunteers of this important stewardship value and the steps we take to make it a reality everyday. 

4. Inspect What You Expect

     We can’t talk about stewardship without also having accountability. Of course, we should have checks and balances in place, and we should be regularly evaluating their effectiveness. Inspect what you expect, and then hold people accountable if their actions don't honor the core values.

     One example of this comes from a friend who is a leader in a grocery store business. When one of the employees showed up late, he corrected the employee and even gave him a write-up. But, the write-up wasn't even focused on his late arrival! The write-up was specifically linked to his organization’s core value of customer service. Ultimately, showing up late meant that the employee was not  serving the customer. As nonprofit leaders, it’s essential for us to clearly connect the dots between behaviors and core values when holding people accountable. 

5. Reward and Recognize

     While accountability is a must, we also need to reward and recognize when core values like stewardship are lived out with excellence. So, make a habit of highlighting those moments when someone has honored those values of integrity and financial stewardship. If something needs to be underscored and repeated, reward it so that others will see this and know that there is recognition when things are done right. 

6. Focus on Continuous Improvement

     Culture isn't something you set and forget. It’s definitely not a “one and done” task.  Organizational culture has to be re-evaluated and intentionally enhanced on a regular basis. So embrace feedback as a means to continual growth. Cultivate and strengthen your nonprofit's responsibility. By diligently incorporating these habits, you’ll create a culture of responsibility that ultimately contributes to the success of your nonprofit in advancing your mission.

     Want more tips like this delivered weekly to your inbox? Click here to subscribe to my blog. If you’d like to talk one-on-one about developing a culture of responsibility in your nonprofit, or if you just have a specific nonprofit finance question that you could use some help with, you can book a strategic consult with me here. I look forward to serving you! 

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