A shining example of a nonprofit values statement

NBS SignsA values statement allows a nonprofit to define and codify the shared beliefs that underlie its work. You don’t have to be a church, synagogue or mosque to benefit from a moral code.

Your values statement keeps board and staff moving in the same direction — and away from danger. Imagine the fallout if an environmental group was fined for polluting. The media would crucify an organization that served individuals with disabilities if its annual meeting wasn’t wheelchair accessible.

In developing a values statement, you’ll need to identify your bedrock beliefs. What are you are unwilling to compromise, regardless of the  promise of more money or greater convenience?

You may uncover differences of opinion on what you thought were shared beliefs as you develop your values statement with your staff and board. That’s a good reason for going through the exercise of creating one.

What does a values statement look like?

We are especially fond of the statement developed in our 2015 planning with the Norman Bird Sanctuary. Norman BIrd Sanctuary Path

The values expressed in its statement are truly bedrock beliefs of the organization. They carefully crafted the language to faithfully represent the principles that guide the organization.

Here are a few of their values:


Mabel Norman [whose bequest created the Sanctuary] entrusted this one-of-a-kind treasure to our care. We experience the joy and the responsibility of her legacy every day, in all of our actions. There will be times when we disagree on direction, or when the temptation to travel the expedient path will be hard to resist. If we let our mission guide us, we will choose the right thing to do.

Good science and ecosystems awareness

Our care for our resources is guided by recognized science and the best practices in natural resource management that are responsive to the needs of this unique place. We take a holistic, ecosystem approach to our stewardship.


We are committed to minimizing our ecological footprint, both here at the Norman Bird Sanctuary and on the ecosystem of our region and planet.

Wise Stewardship

We are careful and responsible managers of the natural, built and human resources entrusted to our care. Our stewardship extends to all the gifts we have been given, including the donations we receive, our reputation and the good will of our community.

You can read the full Norman Bird Sanctuary Values Statement here, in our free Toolbox.

You’ll find another sample of a values statement on page 8 in the 2020 strategic plan from Berkshires Natural Resources Council.

Do you have another shining example of a nonprofit values statement? Would you share it with me?

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