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Nonprofit Culture - Facet Reminders (episode 19, part 8 of 10)

Updated: Apr 24

In this video, you'll learn why it's important to remind board and staff about the nonprofit cultural facets you've developed. This will help keep your culture front and center in the hearts and minds of staff and board.

by Tom Iselin

“America’s Best Board Retreat Facilitator”

Hi, Tom Iselin, here . . . and welcome to First Things First.

This is Day 19 of Boot Camp—A Leadership Guide to Building a Gold Standard Nonprofit. I hope you’ve been enjoying this series on how to build a “Get it Done!” CULTURE.

In the last episode, I talked about how you can improve staff culture by offering flextime and unexpected time off. Today, I want to talk with you about why it’s important to remind staff and board members of the culture they’ve decided to adopt.

Let’s get started. Once you establish a culture, you must nurture it by reminding people. Why? People forget . . . it’s that simple. If you don’t remind people of the culture facets you’ve adopted, and the culture statement you’ve written, it will eventually collect dust, just like many strategic plans do.

You must keep your culture front and center in the minds of board, staff, and volunteers. To that, your staff should hold meetings to discuss the effect of your culture on operations, administration, fundraising, and programming.

Board mem­bers should discuss the topic of organizational culture, board culture, and staff culture at board meetings and during strategic planning sessions. And during orientation and training sessions, your volunteer coordi­nator should ensure volunteers understand your organizational culture and how it applies to their work.

It’s seems trivial, but I found staff and board members appreciated cultural reminders. Some­times I would send an email to staff with one of our values written in it, along with a blurb about what it meant to a particular project we were working on.

At other times, I would facilitate board culture discussions at board meetings to remind members to work with staff on a volunteer project or to host a social activity to deepen personal relationships.

You’ll find that the more you talk with staff, board members, and volunteers about the values, beliefs, and facets of culture your nonprofit espouses, the more likely they are to adopt and uphold them.

Perhaps the best cultural reminder is the manifestation of your culture in the lives and actions of your leaders. If a facet of your culture is “open­ness” and your supervisors are willing to share personal goals, work chal­lenges, and profes­sional aspirations, you can expect your staff to follow suit.

If your board has a culture where board members are re­quired to spear­head an initiative, they will be more likely to fulfill their obligations if they know the board chair is fulfilling her obligations by spearheading an initiative.

In the end, sustaining a culture and all its facets isn’t a top down or bottom-up thing; it’s circular. It’s your responsibility, and the respon­sibility of your leaders, to draw the circle early on, and continue tracing it throughout the life of your nonprofit. So if you want your culture to remain front and center in people’s minds, find ways to remind them!

That’s if for today. In the next episode, I’ll tell be talking about ways your can reflect and celebrate your culture. Until then . . . Who-ya!

Tom Iselin

“America’s Best Board Retreat and Strategic Planning Facilitator”

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Tom's Books, Podcasts, and YouTube Channel

Tom Iselin has built four sector-leading nonprofits and four foundations. He’s written six books, sits on six boards, and hosts a video blog and podcast. Each year, Tom speaks to more than 5,000 nonprofit leaders at conferences across the country. He is considered America's best board retreat and strategic planning facilitator and is a leading authority on high-performance nonprofits, and his impact on the industry has been featured on CNN, Nightline, and in Newsweek.

Tom is the president of First Things First, a business specializing in board development retreats, strategic planning, fundraising, executive coaching, and speaking. To relax, he loves mountain biking, hiking, skiing, tennis, and baking.

If you’re in the hunt for the best board retreat/board development facilitation, or the best strategic planning facilitation, it would be a privilege to learn more about your organization and the aspirations you hope to achieve as you work to propel your noble mission. Jot me an email to set up a meet-and-greet call.

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