Sure, you might have a page on your organization’s website to list out your mission and vision. Given the state of the world, maybe there’s even a recent statement or blog post about your nonprofit’s commitment to your community, public health or racial injustice. But your website can do a whole lot more to communicate nonprofit core values.
If you’re looking for ways to help your organization put your values front and center, make sure you’re doing it in meaningful and noticeable ways. We’ll share some tips, examples and related resources to show you how to use your website to both share and live your values.
Nonprofit Core Values: Internal, External or Both?
The core values of an organization often start out as an internal guidepost for your staff, volunteers and board of directors. A list of organizational values can be useful when it comes to decisions about governance, office culture, internal communications, community relations, hiring and compensation. They might even shape your sponsorship agreements or gift acceptance policy.
Nonprofit core values can be public-facing, too. They are a way to further align your mission and programming with people who feel the same way, as well as a promise that you make to external audiences about what they can expect from your work and leadership.
Consider how these different one-word values set the stage for your nonprofit’s reputation, relationship building, outreach and reporting:
By taking your internal guidepost and sharing it with external stakeholders, you build accountability on both fronts. And your nonprofit’s website can play a big role in putting your nonprofit core values into the world.
Show & Tell With Website Content
What you decide to include on your nonprofit’s website can go a long way to explicitly and implicitly share your nonprofit core values. Here are some specific places to focus on as you work to showcase values on your site.
Values List or Statement
The most obvious step is to include a list and description of your organization values, either on their own page within the About section of your site (see below) or combined with related content like mission and vision statements. Check out these examples for inspiration:
- The Arc: Our Mission and Core Values
- The Center for Children and Families: Core Values
- The Nature Conservancy: Our Mission, Vision, and Values
Most nonprofits have an About or About Us area on their website with content about their history, approach, financials and leadership. Once you have your values listed somewhere, the next step is to start looking at these pages to see how you might improve or expand on the content to reference your values or demonstrate how they come into play.
For example, the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona uses an Our Approach page to connect their values to their programming.
Offering an Impact page on your website is a natural place to talk about your accomplishments, measurable results and community successes. Think about weaving in some messaging about how this mission-critical work gets done in relation to your core values. Are you describing how you get things done, as well as the end result?
Similar to an Impact page, blogging about your nonprofit’s programs or services is a great opportunity to talk a little more about how your values drive the way in which this work gets done. You could even go a step further and blog about specific values and how they shape your organization, employees, participant experiences, events and more. Here’s an example from The First Tee.
Partners or Sponsors Page
Do you have a Partners page or something similar on your website? This is a perfect place to reinforce that your core values inform who you choose to collaborate with—and that your partners share these values, too. See how Rainier Valley Corps writes about new partnerships and uses testimonials to describe how the partners’ decisions to get involved were driven by common values.
Job and Volunteer Descriptions
If you’re using your website as a recruitment hub for employees and volunteers, evaluate your content on related pages and individual descriptions to ensure you’re including nonprofit core values. It helps set the stage for each potential candidate and reaffirms that what you’re all about matches what they’re looking for. The career pages for UNICEF USA, ASPCA and International Fellowship of Christians and Jews are great examples.
Big Picture Website Characteristics
In addition to specific types of website content, the way in which your site is designed, how copy is written and its usability can sync up with nonprofit core values.
Tone, Voice & Vocabulary
Nonprofit marketers are more likely to pay attention to the overall tone and voice of the content on a website, especially if it’s spelled out in your brand or style guide. For a real example, see the guidelines from Soles4Souls.
If you have other colleagues involved in making website updates, you’ll need to do an occasional audit to make sure that you’re consistent from page to page. You may find it’s helpful to do a training or make a checklist about the specific terms and vocabulary you use regularly in your content, like “disabled” vs. “living with a disability” or preferred acronyms like LGBTQI+.
Think about the people and scenes depicted in your website’s photos and visuals. Do they align with the tone you’re going for? How might they be different if your values include diversity or optimism? Also consider where you source your images and permissions. It’s OK to use stock photos, but keep an eye on whether you’re representing the community fairly and accurately.
Do you serve a community where English isn’t always someone’s first language? Offering information solely in one language could be limiting your ability to serve people effectively and compassionately. There are several different approaches to rendering web page content in multiple languages if it’s something that you think is lacking and in contrast with your values.
We’ve said it before, but having a user-friendly and accessible website is just good service for everyone, regardless of abilities, know-how or demographic. Whether you serve a community that needs an accessible website (like our friends over at MindsEye) or you want to fulfill an organizational value around inclusion, there’s no time like the present to work on accessibility.
There’s no rule about listing nonprofit core values for all to see, but why not make a public commitment to what your organization is striving for behind closed doors? Get started in small ways, like including them on an existing web page, and then continually work to improve how you communicate your values across the website and how your website works for those you serve.
Do you think it’s important for nonprofit core values to be public-facing? How do you include core values on your organization’s website or in other places? See you in the comments.