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10 Principles That Should Be Part of Every Non-Profit Organization

Over the years we have learned the principles that help make non-profits serve their community with greater impact. We look for these principles and how they play out in the interactions among staff and the people they serve. When one of these is out of place, the operational effectiveness, the culture of the organization, and even the bottom line can be adversely affected.

In brief the 10 principles are:

  • The Dignity of the Human person – We understand the intrinsic dignity of the human person created in God’s image and likeness. We are guided by a desire to serve people, empowering them to become who they are called to be.

  • The Centrality of the Family – We understand the family as the “vital cell” of society and seek to support and advance the family and its mission in the world.

  • Organizational Accountability – We seek to be accountable to shareholders and those we serve. Clear organizational structure, active boards, diverse and broad representative decision making. Practice excellent stewardship of employees and volunteers, material resources, and our mission and vision.

  • The Value of Solidarity – We seek to be in solidarity with the broader community and especially those organizations we serve with or under their purview. We clearly identify how our particular mission(s) serves the broader community.

  • The Value of Subsidiarity - We seek to develop and maintain subsidiarity with effective decision making and implementation at local levels—the people and communities most impacted by a decision should have the opportunity to help craft the decision.

  • Actively serving a real need – We identify real needs in our community and seeks to be in relationship and dialogue with those we serve. Too often assumed problems don’t reflect the real needs on the ground or their root causes.

  • Investing locally – We value membership and commitment to the community we serve. We develop and maintain local relationships and value local cultural knowledge. We seek to support sustainable local infrastructure.

  • Respecting the Common good – We understand and value the principle of the common good and seek to contribute to full human flourishing within and outside of our particular mission.

  • The Value of Accompaniment – We understand and value the importance of relationships. We seek to be close to, in relationship, and walk along side of those we serve.

  • Partnerships – While protecting our own mission and identity we are fundamentally open to partnerships and seek to develop ways of sharing and serving with other similar organizations.

We hold ourselves to these principles as well and use them as a framework to guide our vision of what authentic community development ought to look like. In many ways these principles are aspirational and call us to a deeper mission of service and solidarity with one another.


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