The Importance of Defining Your Nonprofit's Organizational Culture

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You may often associate terms like "company culture" with millennial heavy start-up companies. However, organizational culture is an integral part of forming a strong team that reaches far beyond pizza parties and bonding exercises. A nonprofit's culture will effect how your team works internally, as well as how you interact with donors, supporters and volunteers. 

How to Define a Culture

A positive company culture is not something that happens by accident. It’s an intentional feeling that is created from the top down. Activities such as bonding exercises and quarterly outings look good on paper, but it’s even more important to use strategies you can implement day-to-day. Here are a few examples:

  • Be as transparent with your employees as possible, including them in important discussions will make them feel even more invested in the cause

  • Encourage casual team activities such as eating lunch together or grabbing a drink after work, this will help foster team bonding outside of work related activities

  • Lead by example, if your employees see you going the extra mile, they’ll do the same

  • Encourage open communication, make sure your team always feels comfortable enough to ask questions and state their opinions

  • Show interest in your employee’s lives outside of work, something as simple as chatting about your weekends demonstrates that you care about them as people, not just as employees

One of the cool things about nonprofits is that your team reaches far beyond your staff members. Implement these strategies with donors and volunteers as well.

Why is organizational culture important?

It’s obvious that you want happy and dedicated employees working for your nonprofit, but here are a few more reasons why defining a positive organizational culture is so important.

Word of Mouth:

Word of mouth is huge in the nonprofit world. There are so many worthy causes a person can choose to support, so you want to make sure the great things about your nonprofit are spread through the grape vine. Good word of mouth can positively impact everything including hiring, finding volunteers, and acquiring new donors. A team who loves what they do will spread the word!

Integrating New Members:

This culture you’ve spent time cultivating will make it significantly easier to welcome and train new members of the team. You’ll be even stronger at hiring the right personality, and your staff will be able to seamlessly lead by example to help the new team member integrate.

Creating a Committed Team:

Each team member was likely first drawn to your organization because of the connection they feel to your nonprofit’s mission. Although this never changes, it is still important that they feel equally connected to the people on your nonprofit’s team. A strong organizational culture will keep your employees around longer due to the combined bond they feel to the cause, and the people.

Living Your Nonprofit’s Mission Statement:

Every nonprofit has a mission statement and the intention to live by these words as they carry out the work they do every day. The organizational culture you create will keep your nonprofit’s mission statement top of mind for all your employees. This will allow you to feel confident that your whole team is on the same page while working towards fulfilling your nonprofit’s mission.


If you have more questions about nonprofit strategy you can always reach out to the DipJar fundraising experts for help. It's what we love to do!