Value Statements

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SEE ALSO: Strategic Plan

SEE ALSO: Code of Ethics

From Independent Sector[1]:

Independent Sector strongly recommends that all nonprofits and foundations develop a statement of values and code of ethics to help guide their policies, decision making and operations. Here is a checklist to help your organization begin the process.

Decide whom you think should be involved in the process. Be sure to include staff and the board. Other important stakeholders include major donors, volunteers and program beneficiaries, each of whom will bring different and valuable perspectives.

Phase One: Value Statements

Focus your first efforts on developing a statement of values, which will later serve as the foundation for a code of ethics:

Convene a group of stakeholders to develop a list of values that might be included in your organization's statement. Have the group brainstorm by answering these questions:

  1. What values are unique to our organization's mission?
  2. What values should every nonprofit organization and society in general uphold?
  3. What values should guide the operations of the organization and the personal conduct of staff, board, and volunteers?
  • Draw from examples of values statements from other organizations as models.
  • Develop consensus around the values that stakeholders believe are most important for your organization. Narrow these to the essential core values of the organization.
  • Organize a small drafting committee to put the ideas into words.Reconvene key stakeholders to review and revise the statement as needed.
  • Secure approval from the board of directors.

Phase Two: Code of Ethics

SEE ALSO: Code of Ethics

Using the organization's statement of values as a foundation, now it's time to turn your attention to developing a code of ethics describing how you put those values into practice. Your resulting document will be a set of broad principles, not a detailed set of operational practices.

Provide model codes from other organizations as a reference for the development of your own code. Convene a key group of stakeholders to decide on the essential elements that your code should cover, such as:

  1. Personal and professional integrity
  2. Mission
  3. Governance
  4. Conflict of interest
  5. Legal compliance
  6. Responsible stewardship of resources and financial oversight
  7. Openness and disclosure
  8. Program evaluation
  9. Inclusiveness and diversity
  10. Integrity in fundraising and/or grantmaking (depending on the type of organization.)
  11. Other areas of particular importance to your organization and field of interest

Resources & Sample Documents

National Council of Nonprofits: Ethics & Accountability for Nonprofits

Michigan Association of Nonprofits: Sample Code of Ethics

Independent Sector: Checklist for Accountability