Culture Resource Guide

Culture Resource Guide

Culture Resource Guide: Tend

  • July 3, 2018

Creating a productive foundation culture — one that accelerates impact and supports nonprofits to be successful — is the result of intentionality and constant tending. Based on what you learn in the assess phase, you may have found that your current culture and aspired culture look pretty similar – maybe you’ve done a lot of work on culture in the past. If this is the case, then you might want to dedicate your efforts to continually tending the productive elements of your culture.

Alternatively, during the assess phase, you may have found that there were big gaps between your current culture and your aspired culture. You may have worked to shift your culture to get closer to a culture that supports your goals. Now, you may be ready to find ways to tend your culture to nurture those elements that you would like to continue.

In either case, tending culture means understanding what we’re trying to achieve and then continually aligning strategy, operations, talent and culture in that direction. One key to success: Everyone throughout the organization needs to understand how their roles and behaviors either reinforce or contradict the culture we are collectively trying to create.

In the foundations GEO has studied, there is a shared belief that paying sustained attention to internal culture is key to their missions and effectively supporting nonprofits and communities. As we tend to culture, it’s important to pay attention to common cultural elements and practices that support nonprofit success. These include strong internal and external communication, explicit organizational values, and reinforcing behaviors such as trust, inclusion, learning, humility and collaboration.

Questions to Ask

  • What’s working well in our current culture? How can we continue to reinforce this productive element of our culture?
  • What are the rewards and incentives we have in place to reinforce productive elements of our culture?
  • What opportunities do we have — large or small — to pay more attention to culture in the months ahead?