Canadian fundraiser Tony Myers says, “The creation of a coherent, values-based movement has become a necessary step in the creation of any transformational change.” ((Me)volution, 2012) Organizations embody this when their vision and mission are aligned with their values. Any charity website you visit will have its values listed.
But I don’t always know what they mean. Do you?
For example, a health care organization lists the following values: caring, excellence, teamwork and respect. For me, these listed values are basic common courtesies that we are supposed to extend daily. How does an organization measure such values? Many Christian organizations hire based on Christian values, which are measured through the religion of an employee or applicant. A health organization could not measure such values without definition.
Slacker or humanitarian?
(Me)volution contributor Jana Ledvinova wrote about Veronica, a woman who survived the Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia and emerged as a humanitarian. After meeting with an old friend, Veronica realized that the rich community in her country believed her to be a slacker. Her “friend” said that slackers are “those self-righteous hippies and idealists who have all started up organizations taking good peoples’ money to save this or promote equal that or help those who should be helping themselves.”
If you are reading this article then you are probably a self-identified slacker. Veronica’s values vastly differ from her friend’s. She measured this through her understanding of her friend’s priorities, the way she speaks about them and how she acts in her daily life.
How do you measure values?
How can I then measure caring, excellence, teamwork and respect? I can’t, at least not yet. As an organization or a movement, it is important to not only list values but explaining what they mean to your organization. Is your main value listed as caring? Caring for what? For the well-being of others; sick, old, young, poor, the environment, healthcare, homelessness? The list can go on forever.
Explaining and providing true meaning for your organization’s values will make your hiring process easier. Prospects will understand exactly what the organization values and either be able to align themselves with such values or continue looking for other work. Employers can use their organization’s values as a measuring tool for employee evaluations. Is your employee executing your organization’s values with your mission and vision? If not, they are not communicating your mission or vision properly and may be missing valuable donors, volunteers or grant opportunities.
Fuzzy values destroy effectiveness
For a movement, values are just as important. The wrong values can greatly alter a movement’s vision. For example, the (Me)volution blog took a look at the student movement in Québec; Canadian Federation of Students; Un-Shared Values. Without a comprehensive understanding or list of values the movement became a channel for any displeased member of Québec society to protest. Whether it was about politics, school, healthcare, you name it, it was protested. Their lack of values took away from their vision of free education.
“For today, it is less about effective organizational structure and more about people who believe the same thing joining together under the banner of a vision which inspired them” ((Me)volution). Think about the impact your movement could have with explained values. Imagine the impact your organization will have when your values are understood and respected by employees, volunteers, donors and clients. Your values will allow your vision to be fulfilled. Your values will help attract the right people to your movement and complete your (me)volution.
Christina Hemens was drawn to philanthropy while growing up in Muskoka, Ontario. At Concordia University in Montreal, she honed her philanthropic spirit and passion for fundraising. After completing her post-graduate certification in Fundraising and Volunteer Management from Humber College she is now Marketing and Communications Coordinator at (me)volution, where she is able to create a positive difference in her lifetime.