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Organizational Culture: An Engine for Change and Growth

We are in the midst of a digital transformation, particularly for charities – many of whom are behind the for-profit sector as far as investments into systems, infrastructure, and digital skills development. Many have been forced into playing catch up over the last 17 months, as everything, including major giving, has moved online. Digital channels are now the key point of engagement for our audiences.

What’s fascinating is that despite the need to transform or lose out, our work in helping clients get to where they need and want to go in digital – from micro-projects (fixing forms, tracking, systems integration, etc.) or large-scale digital transformation audits and solutions, one thing keeps coming up as either a barrier or a solution: organizational culture.

We have always known an organization’s culture has a big impact on our ability to raise more money and attract new supporters. It enables our ability to break down silos within fundraising areas and find new solutions. Even very specific solutions to systems and infrastructure are impacted by culture. It comes up almost every time when we are talking about change – simple, small change, or large, institutional change. The culture of the organization is vital to making it happen. It sets the pace for how people step up, lean in, or avoid change at all costs.

What Does Culture Really Impact?

The reach of an organization’s culture is broad and cannot be understated. Everything – from the way teams integrate, to how priorities are set and supported, to the way staff contributions are measured against overall success – is contingent upon the strength of an organization’s culture. It impacts everything we do.

We have always believed that culture is a key competitive advantage, and we are seeing this in spades right now. The characteristics and knowledge of the people in your organization and how they work together are either creating opportunity for you, or it’s holding you back. A focus on culture is particularly critical now when finding amazing staff can be challenging due to many people making decisions to leave the sector, or simply being burnt out.

Putting Culture Up Front

Culture needs to be at the forefront of every leadership discussion in your charity right now, and the hard questions need to be asked. Are you making it easy for people to do great work and think differently? We’ve seen fear of making mistakes, taking ownership, over-focus on hierarchy, or even being seen, limit the ability to do amazing fundraising and marketing.

The global pandemic, which has turned our planning, our systems, and our ways of working upside down, has really highlighted the fact that a healthy, positive organizational culture can be leveraged to aid in weathering a crisis by keeping teams engaged and focused on problem-solving and innovative solutions. This is a great opportunity for your organization to build, or rebuild, a culture that people want to work in and truly thrive.

By starting with your internal culture and ensuring that you are not in your own way, your systems, your donor experience, your ability to plan and realize goals will improve. You might be amazed at what can be accomplished by investing in your culture and changing things that are not working. So, what are you waiting for?