Next Stage’s Values and Guiding Principles

by Josh Jacobson

Of late we have been talking about the importance of values and guiding principles to informing the culture and brand of a nonprofit organization. We think it is really important and an under-examined element of the nonprofit business model.

But what about the private sector? Aren’t values and guiding principles just as important to corporations and companies? Indeed they are. Visit any corporate website and you are likely to find them front and center.

So what about Next Stage? Since we promote the forming of values and guiding principles with nonprofit organizations, shouldn’t we “walk the walk” ourselves?

Absolutely we should. The following seven statements are Next Stage’s values and guiding principles, informed by nearly six years and over 120 nonprofit engagements in the Carolinas and activated everyday by our team of social do-gooders:

Purpose – We are called to this work.
We are social entrepreneurs who work with and through nonprofit organizations to strengthen our community. Our focus is on strategy and strengthening for social good across every sector, believing that improving the quality of life in our service area takes on many forms. We are deeply committed to the Carolinas and especially Charlotte where we live and our headquarters is located.

Collaboration – Only together we can achieve an ambitious vision.
We believe in the collective ownership of the nonprofit model and that a diversified mix of nonprofits are needed to create the strongest outcomes. This belief guides our work, with each new mission brought to life through the eyes of the passionate individuals who drive it forward. Our nonprofit partners champion the people and causes they serve, and we in turn champion them.

Equity – We are committed to inside-out solutions.
Our biggest challenges require bridging to understand, bonding to galvanize will and resource linking that is done with deep appreciation for what everyone brings to the table. We believe “outside-in” solutions are unlikely to yield success because everyone must have an ownership stake for the nonprofit model to be successful. This perception informs how we work across the entire firm.

Commitment – We hold ourselves to a very high standard.
Everyone at Next Stage has worked inside or alongside nonprofits for most of our careers. We get it. The resources used to invest in engaging with us could be used for many different purposes, and we refuse to be a “barnacle on the side of social good.” We endeavor to pour ourselves into every project we undertake with expert facilitation and strong written deliverables. We see our work as a partnership with nonprofit organizations and we always shoot for long-term impact.

Candor – We say the stuff that needs to be said.
The nonprofit business model is a messy one with many different stakeholders all with a formal (and informal) say in the future of an organization. Cutting through requires Next Stage to be an honest broker of findings learned through primary and secondary research. Next Stage is proud of its standing as a firm that is direct and trusted.

Courage – We challenge the social good status quo.
The way we have always done things is not sufficient to meet the growing needs of our community. We believe nonprofits must take risks by developing new strategies and approaches to grow their impact, and they must be supported in that activity by the stakeholders in their organizations. Our focus is on purposeful invention informed by research and a process of testing and retesting, with an aim of driving mission forward.

Efficiency – We are mindful of how we deploy our resources.
With so many worthy nonprofit organizations, we are limited only by our collective capacity to answer the call. We maximize productivity through a rigorous commitment to resource management, ensuring our nonprofit partners get the best of our efforts every time.

What do you think? For those who have worked with us, do these values and guiding principles accurately describe us? Do they resonate with you? Let us know on social media: LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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