Exploring and Understanding Examples of Nonprofit Value Statements

Exploring and Understanding Examples of Nonprofit Value Statements

A value statement is a written explanation of the beliefs that your nonprofit organization holds and how it intends to operate. The purpose of a value statement is to communicate with your organization's employees, supporters, stakeholders, and potential donors, letting them know the principles that guide your nonprofit's mission.

Commonly, value statements are confused with vision and/or mission statements. This is an easy mistake to make, so let's clear things up here. First of all, it's important to understand that a value statement doesn't concern marketing or sales, it's simply tied to the culture of your nonprofit. On the other hand, a vision statement has the purpose of outlining the ultimate goal of your organization, describing what it's working toward. And a mission statement is designed to offer a deep explanation of why your organization exists. Typically, value statements are static, never changing, but a mission statement is subject to change as your organization grows and evolves.

Nonprofit organizations can make use of a value statement in a variety of ways. They help to build trust with the public, garner support, and align the fundraising goals of the organization with its principles.

In the remainder of this article we'll explore the nonprofit value statement in more depth. We'll take a look at crafting the perfect nonprofit value statement, real-life examples of successful nonprofit value statements, common mistakes to avoid in the process, and much more. By the conclusion of this piece, you'll have the confidence to compose a value statement that reflects the beliefs, principles, and intended operation of your organization.

Understanding the Core Values within Nonprofit Value Statements

Let's go over the definition of a value statement one more time. A value statement is a body of text containing a brief explanation of your nonprofit's beliefs and how it proposes to operate as an organization. It's designed to appeal to the most significant individuals associated with your organization, informing them of the principles that determine the route your nonprofit takes during its mission. A value statement can be as short or long as your organization desires. What's most important is that it's detailed enough to be informative, but concise enough to be read swiftly. Some businesses and organizations have a value statement consisting of a single sentence, while others are multiple paragraphs in length.

But why do value statements matter? Let's be totally honest for a moment. In the grand scheme of the operations of a nonprofit organization, a value statement isn't hugely significant. However, it's something that can be created with little effort in a small amount of time. Value statements shouldn't be neglected because their impact is sure to outweigh the time and effort invested to write them. They are comprised of three core values, each of which benefit your nonprofit in a unique way - let's break them down.

Core Values of a Value Statement - #1: Beliefs

Beliefs aren't something held only by individuals, they're also relevant to business entities and nonprofit organizations. As mentioned above, you'll absolutely want to include the beliefs of your organization in its value statement. In this context, a belief is a statement that a nonprofit accepts to be true. As an example, a charity dedicated to education might hold the following belief: all children deserve access to free schooling.

Core Values of a Value Statement - #2: Intentions of Operation

Another core value of a value statement is a description of how your nonprofit intends to operate. Organizations can operate in a near-unlimited number of ways, it's important to define yours as clearly as possible. Think about how your organization will handle communication, long-term sustainability, and diversity and inclusion. Perhaps you could state that your organization intends to operate with a transparent approach to communication and a heavy emphasis on diversity and inclusion. This is simply an example, your intentions of operation should be tailored to the specifics of your nonprofit.

Core Values of a Value Statement - #3: Principles

Principles are often confused with beliefs but there is a distinction between the two. While a belief is a statement that is accepted to be true, principles are ethics that serve as the foundation for your organization. Examples of principles that are common in the nonprofit sector are: integrity, honesty, equity, and confidentiality. Principles should tie into the day-to-day operations of your organization, underlining every action it takes and decision it makes.

Crafting Effective Nonprofit Value Statements

The three core values above offer a great baseline to work from, but alone they won't allow you to produce a complete value statement. Let's review some of the steps that you can take to construct a nonprofit value statement from start to finish.

Begin by collecting and writing down your thoughts. Focus on the three core values of your organization: beliefs, intentions, and principles. It's up to you how many of each of these core values you'd like to include, and it will likely vary from nonprofit to nonprofit. A good place to start is 1-2 beliefs, anymore than this might result in a convoluted value statement, 2-3 intentions, and 3-5 principles. Here's an example of how this might look for an organization dedicated to environmentalism:

  • Beliefs:
    1. Each generation has a duty to preserve the Earth for the next generation.
  • Intentions:
    1. Intends to operate with a focus on long-term sustainability and conservation.
    2. Intends to operate with an emphasis on transparent communication.
  • Principles:
    1. Integrity
    2. Transparency
    3. Inclusiveness
    4. Honesty

Determining your organization's core values is the most difficult step of the process. From here, it's about tying them all together. Before we move on, it's important to be sure of your core values. A solid value statement is unlikely to ever require change. While an organization's mission and vision statement might evolve over time, value statements should be concerned with long-term relevance. You can consult volunteers, employees, and stakeholders to ensure your core values remain faithful to your organization.

You know how the old saying goes; less is more. This sentiment should be kept in mind when bringing together your core values to form a value statement. While length can be determined on an individual basis, brevity is key. A concise value statement is more likely to engage readers and maintain their attention. Be mindful that your nonprofit's value statement is likely to be the first point of contact between your organization and potential donors.

With this in mind, here's how our hypothetical charity might translate their core values into a value statement:

"Through integrity, transparency, inclusiveness, and honesty, we strive to enact social change regarding our planet. We intend to operate with a focus on long-term sustainability and conservation, with an emphasis on open communication. Ultimately, by these means, we endeavor to hold each generation responsible for preserving the Earth for the next."

  • The above example begins by outlining the principles of the nonprofit:
    • "integrity, transparency, inclusiveness, and honesty."
  • It then expresses the organization's intentions:
    • "to operate with a focus on long-term sustainability and conservation, with an emphasis on open communication."
  • Finally, it states the nonprofit's belief in closing:
    • "we endeavor to hold each generation responsible in preserving the Earth for the next."

Examples of Nonprofit and For-Profit Value Statements

In this section of the article, we'll take a look at some real-life value statements and assess how each business/charity has taken a strategic approach to expressing its core values. While some of these are for-profit value statements, they're still relevant because they follow a similar pattern to nonprofit value statements.

  1. Kellogg's (For-Profit)

Value Statement: “Through integrity, accountability, passion, humility, simplicity and a focus on success, we have created a vibrant company culture where ideas can blossom, people can thrive and success can flourish.”

Analysis: Kellogg's principles are clearly on display in their value statement: "integrity, accountability, passion, humility, simplicity." They've also included an intention: "a focus on success." While there might not be an obvious belief in their value statement, we can infer that Kellogg's believes, through these principles and intentions, they can create an environment that promotes successful, flourishing individuals.

  1. Adidas (For-Profit)

Value Statement: “At Adidas, we are rebellious optimists driven by action, with a desire to shape a better future together. We see the world of sport and culture with possibility where others only see the impossible.”

Analysis: Adidas' value statement doesn't appear to explicitly outline its principles. However, it clearly states its intentions, which are to operate as "rebellious optimists" that are "driven by action." The second sentence in their value statement helps us to understand their belief, which is that innovation in sport and culture is always achievable. Like Kellogg's value statement, Adidas' is short, sweet, and to the point.

  1. Coca-Cola (For-Profit)

Value Statement: Our values serve as a compass for our actions and describe how we behave in the world.

  • Leadership: The courage to shape a better future
  • Collaboration: Leverage collective genius
  • Integrity: Be real
  • Accountability: If it is to be, it's up to me
  • Passion: Committed in heart and mind
  • Diversity: As inclusive as our brands
  • Quality: What we do, we do well

Analysis: Coca-Cola's value statement is about as clear an example of principles as you're likely to see. They've been listed and described in their entirety. Coca-Cola has included an intention, which is to use its principles as a compass for its actions and behavior in the world. There isn't a clear belief in their value statement, but we might assume that they believe in the quality of their product: "What we do, we do well."

  1. Goodwill (Nonprofit)

Value Statement:

  • Respect – We treat all people with dignity and respect.
  • Stewardship – We honor our heritage by being socially, financially, and environmentally responsible.
  • Ethics – We Strive to meet the highest ethical standards.
  • Learning – We challenge each other to strive for excellence and to continually learn.
  • Innovation – We embrace continuous improvement, bold creativity and change.

Analysis: Like Coca-Cola, Goodwill leaves nothing to the imagination with their principles. Their intentions can be seen in the descriptive text of each principle. For example, Goodwill intends to "treat all people with dignity and respect" and "meet the highest ethical standards." There isn't an explicit belief in Goodwill's value statement, but this highlights the tailored nature of the value statement. The inclusion of a belief is just a guideline and doesn't need to be followed in every case.

  1. Habitat For Humanity (Nonprofit)

Value Statement:

  1. Demonstrate the love of Jesus Christ.
  2. Focus on shelter.
  3. Advocate for affordable housing.
  4. Promote dignity and hope.
  5. Support sustainable and transformative development.

Analysis: Habitat For Humanity clearly outlines its principles: "dignity" and "hope." Its value statement includes a reference to its belief, which is that housing can be affordable for all: "Advocate for affordable housing." Finally, it contains intentions, such as demonstrating "the love of Jesus Christ" through its work and focusing "on shelter." Habitat For Humanity offers a wonderful example of a value statement that includes the three core values discussed earlier.

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Writing a Nonprofit Value Statement

When writing a value statement for your nonprofit, you'll want to avoid common pitfalls. This section of the article will be dedicated to exposing mistakes that you might make during the process.

Overly Verbose

Value statements that use more than 2-3 sentences, or a few bullets, are too lengthy. An overly verbose value statement can open expose itself to misinterpretation. Readers tend to pick and choose what to absorb and what to disregard when consuming long value statements. If you fall into the trap of an overly verbose value statement, you've robbed yourself of the hard work, thought, and sculpting required to come to an actionable outcome. Your organization must dedicate itself to creating a concise statement that serves your nonprofit and its supporters.

Complex Language and Jargon

Your value statement is meant to be understood by all. Many organizations make the mistake of viewing their value statement as an internal-facing message. They are meant to signal, to the world, the core values of your organization. It's not ideal to use complex language and jargon in your value statement. This can lead to something that is difficult for a layman to digest. Focus time and effort on distilling your statement down into its simplest terms.

Incomplete or Rushed

Perhaps your organization is fretting because it doesn't have a value statement. Relax! Take the time you need to avoid a disappointing outcome that fails to inspire new support. Your value statement is going to be around forever and seen by many eyes. Commit to care and attention.

Too Generic

Avoid including principles because they sound good. Yeah, it's great that your nonprofit values integrity, honesty, and openness, but does it truly reflect this? It's better to have 1-2 principles that you actually display, rather than a generic list of 4-5. Furthermore, avoid the "we want to change the world" trope when thinking about your beliefs. Every nonprofit wants to change the world, be more specific!

Inaccurate or Misleading

That's right, value statements can be inaccurate or misleading. A charity focused on healthcare wouldn't reference a belief about adequate space for animals in zoos. It also shouldn't mislead readers by claiming that it will make healthcare free and accessible worldwide. Use vague language, such as "we hope" or "we aim" and be realistic about your beliefs. Promising supporters gold and delivering copper isn't going to lead to good sentiment for your organization.


When writing a value statement, think modern. Society values inclusion, diversity, sustainability, and other core principles. Write your statement to reflect modern expectations and avoid allowing an outdated mantra to guide your nonprofit.

Product of Compromise

While it's great to involve everyone in the process of writing a value statement, the old adage remains true; too many cooks spoil the broth. Allow a representative from each area of your organization to speak on behalf of their peers. If ideas from these representatives don't align with your organization, discount them. Compromise will only lead to a poor product.

Integrating Nonprofit Core Values into Operations

Great, you've written your value statement and you're happy with the final product. Now what?

The most important thing to do is communicate. Get your value statement out there. Put it on your organization's website, its social media channels, email it to supporters, give it exposure anyway you can. A value statement is nothing without eyes to see it. As referenced, this statement is going to be a first point of contact with potential donors. They must be able to read it to conclude whether or not your nonprofit's core values align with their personal core values.

Be your value statement. If you claim to operate with integrity, then operate with integrity. You have to prove that your organization means what it says in its value statement. The easiest way to lose trust it to make claims and fail to follow up on them. Once your organization begins to lose trust, it'll struggle to survive in the nonprofit sector. Trust is difficult to regain once lost, and the nonprofit industry is one that relies heavily on this belief in reliability.


Q: What is a nonprofit value statement, and why is it important?

A: A nonprofit value statement is a brief description of the beliefs, intentions, and principles of an organization. It's designed to help individuals to understand a nonprofit's cause and determine whether or not the core values of an organization align with their own. Value statements are important because they provide a window into a charity, and act as a first point of contact between nonprofits and potential donors.

Q: How do nonprofit value statements differ from mission and vision statements?

A: While a nonprofit value statement briefly outlines the beliefs, intentions, and principles of an organization, a mission statement provides a deep explanation of why a charity exists. And a vision statement is in place to outline the ultimate goal of a nonprofit. A value statement is tied to neither marketing nor sales, and is more concerned with describing the culture of an organization.

Q: What are the key elements of an effective nonprofit value statement?

A: Effective nonprofit value statements clearly convey the beliefs and principles of an organization, and how it intends to operate. They are typically brief and informative. An effective nonprofit value statement should concern itself with long-term relevance, and shouldn't require frequent revision.

Q: What common mistakes should be avoided when crafting nonprofit value statements?

A: There are a variety of common pitfalls when writing a nonprofit value statement. They include, but are not limited to, the use of complex language and jargon, incomplete or rushed statements, and products of compromise. To read more about these common mistakes, refer to the "" section above.

Go Forth and Write Your Nonprofit Value Statement

Though it won't be the most important component of your nonprofit organization, your value statement will become a useful cog in the charity machine. Not only will it inform readers of the beliefs, intentions, and principles of your nonprofit, it will act as a first point of contact with potential donors. They'll be able to read through your organization's core values to determine whether or not they align with their own. This is an important step in the onboarding process of new supporters.

Once you have engaged your new support, you'll want to convert them into a donor. This can be achieved using Paybee's all-in-one fundraising tool. Paybee's user-friendly platform offers a variety of useful features, such as tap to pay, virtual fundraising events, reporting and analytics tools, and much more.

Now, go forth and write your nonprofit value statement. Use the skills you've learned in this article and refer to the examples explored earlier. Take your time, be patient, and produce something that your organization can be proud of for years to come.

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Benjamin Mcquaid

Hello! I am Benjamin, a freelance writer from the United Kingdom. I have had a passion for writing since my highschool days and love to research and produce content on any topic. For enquiries, contact me via email: benjaminmcquaid5@gmail.com.