If you’re like most nonprofit leaders, you’ve poured your heart and soul into your organization.
That’s what makes nonprofit life feel so rewarding. Thrilling, even. You serve alongside great people. Lives are transformed. You see results that impact generations to come.
But nonprofit life can also feel like the worst. The long hours. The stress. The sleepless nights. You’re underpaid, and your programs underfunded. Donors stop giving. Your best team members move on.
With nonprofit work, the highs feel higher… and the lows feel lower.
That can lead to a tumultuous organizational environment.
So how can you cultivate the calm and stability your nonprofit needs so your leaders don’t lose steam and your best employees don’t abandon ship?
By creating an incredible nonprofit culture.
How an on-brand culture keeps you ahead of the rest
Picture a culture that:
- Attracts top talent
- Equips staff to live out your values
- Turns employees into your loudest fans
- Inspires teams to produce better results with less money
- Builds donor confidence and deepens connection
- Increases brand recognition from the inside out
- Keeps funds coming and revenue increasing
This sort of on-brand culture is what sets apart the best from the rest.
Culture is their secret tool for attracting loyal followers and building a powerful sense of community, both within and outside of your organization.
The best strategy for creating a stand-out culture
Culture work can be hard work.
But it doesn’t have to be complicated.
With a clear framework for shaping your culture, you can create a nonprofit that sets new standards in social impact and wins the hearts of new donors.
That’s exactly what a Marquee Culture is designed to do for you.
The Marquee Culture Method for brand-culture alignment
Marquee Culture is our approach to aligning your organization from the inside out. With a Marquee Culture, your brand is set up to authentically showcase who you are and how you’re different. It ensures that everything you and your people do aligns with your brand and contributes to your larger narrative of mission impact.
That level of crystal-clear alignment becomes the competitive advantage that turns potential donors into repeat givers who just won’t shut up about your nonprofit.
The Marquee Culture Method works by infusing your brand into 6 distinct yet interconnected layers of your nonprofit culture:
- Principles – Behavior-based values that guide your people to act, behave, and make decisions that bring your brand to life.
- Architecture – Organizational systems and structures designed to reflect your brand and support your employees to deliver on its promise.
- Rituals – Repeated, experiential activities that reinforce what matters in your nonprofit, creating joy and energy around your brand.
- Lore – The stories that circulate within your nonprofit, reflecting the positive and negative ways your people experience your culture.
- Vocabulary – A lexicon of clearly defined words and phrases helping your team understand what’s important for your brand and how to drive it forward.
- Artifacts – The tangible objects at the top-most level of your culture helping people engage and take ownership in the brand.
When nonprofit leaders use the Marquee Culture Method to align their culture with their brand, they see results… fast.
Employee engagement skyrockets.
Mission impact accelerates.
Brand loyalty grows.
We’ve seen it happen every time, without fail.
Your quick-start guide to shaping your nonprofit culture
Wondering how the Marquee Culture Method will work for your nonprofit?
Test drive it for yourself with these simple tips.
This is your starting point, forming the foundation of your culture. Begin by examining your core values. Then craft behavior-based Principles by connecting those values to specific employee behaviors and decisions that differentiate your nonprofit from others.
The next layer of culture is Architecture, including internal systems and structures such as budgets, accounting software, hiring practices, benefits packages, and more.
Look for brand gaps—places where systems and structures don’t help your people live out your brand. Choose one area where there’s a gap, and work with your team to better align it so your staff is supported to do amazing work.
Rituals are joyful, energizing, voluntary activities that help your people engage with your values, showcase what your nonprofit stands for, and bring your brand to life.
Look for grassroots, employee-led rituals that already exist in your nonprofit, and fertilize them so they grow into organization-wide Rituals. You can also create a new Ritual: Choose one of your Principles and brainstorm potential activities that can help cement it in the minds of your employees.
Lore exists in every organization. Whether you’re aware of it or not, your organization has a collection of positive and negative stories that circulate from employee to employee.
Take time to listen to your team. Cultivate a safe environment that helps people feel safe sharing Lore with you and other leaders. Keep tabs on negative Lore, and make a habit of routinely sharing positive Lore in meetings and communications.
Take an audit of the unique words and phrases people use in your nonprofit.
Assess which ones support and align with your brand, and work with your team to retire the ones that don’t. Excavate your Principles to find new Vocabulary that keeps your team focused on your mission.
The final layer of culture is Artifacts—the physical spaces and tangible objects that your people can see, touch, and experience.
Customize your artifacts and create unique, intentionally designed swag that reinforces your brand and resonates with your team.
Start enjoying the returns of brand-culture alignment
Culture building isn’t for the faint of heart. But neither is nonprofit leadership.
With all you’ve faced and overcome to get where you are today, we know you’ve got it in you to do the noble, deeply rewarding work of brand-culture alignment. The payoff is a more passionate team, dedicated donors, and stronger brand recognition across the nonprofit sector.
To go deeper, check out Culture Built My Brand—your guidebook to creating a winning nonprofit culture.
And when you need help navigating the journey, we’ve got your back.