Saturday, January 01, 2011

Benetech Truths

Benetech has spent a good part of this last year thinking about what's next for our mission and our team. A crucial part of that effort has been to identify what we think is uniquely true about Benetech. This portion was an internally focused effort based on conversations with our team. We came up with the following truths as part of that process. You might call them Benetech's values, but we didn't look at traditional organizational value statements while drafting these truths. Writing them down has been powerful for us: these truths articulate who we are and how we do things at Benetech. We're striving now to fully live up to them!

Benetech Truths

1 We are committed to social change through technology.

Benetech is a Silicon Valley nonprofit organization developing innovative technology solutions with a primary goal of positive social change rather than profit.

2 We get stuff done.

Benetech has a record of success in securing funding, creating partnerships, and delivering products and services that are useful tools for the social sector. Our users are the primary drivers of our technology development. We honor our commitments to all our stakeholders. Our work has significant impact on users, partners, and the fields of social enterprise, human rights, disability and the environment.

3 We do the right stuff right.

We solve social problems that otherwise would not be solved. We are a nonprofit technology company serving the unserved, tackling important challenges that the private sector cannot by developing content, products and services to effect social change. We value professionalism, dedication and service. We seek to evaluate our people and our work, and to continue to document and improve our procedures.

4 We prefer open to proprietary (internal and external).

Benetech seeks to be open internally and externally. While respecting individual privacy and our other values, we foster a collaborative work environment through open communication. We rely on open source tools for information exchange and development tools, as appropriate. Externally, Benetech is committed to open standards in software to ensure others are able to learn from and contribute to our work.

5 We think we can do more together (internally and externally).

Benetech works in partnerships. We value modesty and show humility and respect for users, community members, funders, opinion leaders and organizational partners. We avoid competing with our partner organizations. With extensive feedback from users, we ensure our projects truly make a difference, helping to amplify the impact of our partner’s work. Benetech’s partnerships in literacy, human rights and environmental conservation are matching the creativity of the high-tech sector with the efforts of grassroots leaders around the world.

6 We value flexibility (as an employer and from our employees).

Flexibility is an asset to Benetech’s accomplishments and to its ability to attract and retain excellent staff members. We seek to establish workplace flexibility that enables greater effectiveness without sacrificing teamwork and spirit. Benetech is committed to communication and cooperation with employees, whether physically present or not.

7 We are committed to personal and professional development.

Benetech’s success at effecting social change stems in large part from its excellent staff. Benetech seeks to create leaders by fostering personal learning, growth and service. We want to expose all of our team to our technology and our customers. Benetech seeks to empower its managers with knowledge, authority and responsibility, and encourages them to use their judgment and expertise. We encourage our staff to take on leadership positions within the fields we work, through activities such as external speaking engagements. These opportunities bring benefits not only to Benetech but to the broader community.

With regard to professional development, Benetech’s depth of knowledge and diverse program activities offer great opportunities for cross-learning in the workplace and in the field. These include formal and informal activities such as individual training by other staff members, workshops, staff brown bags and visiting speakers. Benetech assists employees with courses, degree programs and other relevant learning experiences. Benetech seeks to nurture and celebrate staff and organizational accomplishments.

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