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Cultural Fit in the Nonprofit Sector

by Annie Sutton

In this article Brian O’Connell, cofounder of Independent Sector, discusses why cultural fit is especially important to the nonprofit sector and what it really takes for an individual to be a success in a nonprofit organization.

MANP’s Executive Director, Scott Schnapp, weighs in with his thoughts on cultural fit:

Brian raises some interesting points here, and I agree with him that an in depth understanding of the cultural values of an organization is a critically important element of effective hiring decisions. The article did have an implicit assumption that the prevailing organizational culture should be preserved, though, and it has been my experience that many nonprofits these days are recognizing that elements of their prevailing culture need to change in order for the organization to evolve. So, some organizations are consciously recruiting leaders that are counter-cultural, and who have the skills and abilities to challenge some of the organizational mythology that may be serving as an impediment to necessary changes. That said, I think that a frank and candid discussion about organizational culture, as well as an assessment of what elements of that culture are important to preserve and what aspects might need to change, is a great place to start a recruitment process for both staff or board leaders, and that cultural issues should be an important part of any discussions around collaboration or merger between organizations.

It would be interesting to hear from nonprofit leaders whether their organization’s cultural values are implicit or explicit, how they incorporate their values into organizational life, and what they are doing to both preserve and transform culture in these changing times.

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