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About the Standards for Excellence®

by | Dec 6, 2020

Kristopher Madore is proudly licensed by the Standards for Excellence Institute® to assist nonprofit organizations implement the Standards for Excellence®: An Ethics and Accountability Code for the Nonprofit Sector.

Standards for Excellence® in the Nonprofit Sector

“In today’s world, nonprofits cannot simply be ‘do-gooders.’ Nonprofits must act ethically and be held accountable for achieving results. The Standards for Excellence® offer nonprofit board and staff leaders the tools they need to strengthen the quality and integrity of management in their organizations.”  Walter Sondheim (1908-2007), Greater Baltimore Committee

The Standards for Excellence Institute® encourages excellence and integrity in nonprofit management. Organizations voluntarily participate, and their internal practices undergo a rigorous “ethics checkup.”

The Standards for Excellence®: An Ethics and Accountability Code for the Nonprofit Sector (the “Code” or “Standards”) is the centerpiece of the Standards for Excellence® program.  The Standards evaluate principles of honesty, integrity, fairness, respect, trust, responsibility, and accountability in nonprofit program operations, governance, human resources, financial management, and fundraising.

The Standards set a high benchmark.  They go well-beyond the minimum legal requirements by outlining how well-managed and responsibly governed nonprofits should operate.  The Standards cover six areas of nonprofit governance, operations, and management:

  1.  Mission, Strategy, and Evaluation
  2.  Finance and Operations
  3.  Leadership: Board, Staff, and Volunteers
  4.  Resource Development
  5.  Legal Compliance and Ethics
  6.  Public Awareness, Engagement and Advocacy

Standards for Excellence® Licensed Consultants Help Nonprofits Achieve the Standards

Licensed Consultants work with nonprofits to implement the Standards in their organizations by incorporating written educational materials, providing training seminars, and giving one-on-one technical assistance.

A Voluntary Accreditation Program

The Standards for Excellence Institute® offers a voluntary, peer-reviewed accreditation program for nonprofit organizations interested in demonstrating that they recognize and abide by the Standards for Excellence® Code.  Organizations that comply may become accredited.  To achieve accreditation, organizations submit a written application, provide documentation, and pay an application fee.  Licensed Consultants may be sought to assist organizations through this rigorous process.  A panel of trained peer reviewers assesses the applicant’s practices and determines if they have met the Standards.  Accredited organizations have permission to use the Seal of Excellence, a symbol the public and donors alike can trust.

Standards for Excellence®: A Symbol of Trust

Only organizations demonstrating their compliance with the Standards for Excellence® Code have permission to use the Seal of Excellence from the Standards for Excellence Institute®.

Licensed Consultants work with organizations to earn the Seal of Excellence, a symbol for trust.  Organizations bearing the Seal show that they are committed to the highest level of ethics and accountability and not only obey the law, but also go beyond the minimum requirements set forth by government regulation.

Licensed Consultants are trained by the Standards for Excellence Institute®.  The Licensed Consultant training program is an exclusive, professional development initiative that gives independent consultants the knowledge, skills, and tools necessary to work with nonprofit organizations across the country interested in learning about the Standards for Excellence®, implementing the Code, and becoming accredited by the Standards for Excellence Institute®.

The Seal of Excellence is a symbol for excellence in nonprofit management.  Organizations bearing the Seal are guided by a well-defined mission, have evaluation systems in place to measure the effectiveness of their programs, and adhere to sound financial management policies.

The Seal of Excellence is a symbol for openness and disclosure in nonprofits.  Organizations bearing the Seal have information available to the public, provide truthful responsible stewardship of all donations, and provide a voice for their constituents.  Donors who support Standards for Excellence® accredited nonprofits can be confident the organization acts in an ethical and accountable fashion.

Research Supports Tangible Benefits with Standards Accreditation.  A university study of 102 nonprofit organizations that have received the Standards for Excellence® accreditation compared with peer organizations of similar size and industry examined the impact of acquiring the accreditation.  Significant findings found that the process is associated with an increase in direct public support.

Researchers found that nonprofit organizations’ stakeholders will react positively to organizations earning the Standards for Excellence® accreditation by allocating more resources to the nonprofit.  The Standards for Excellence® program provides a structured approach to improved operations and quality management, delivering years of benchmarking and best practices to organizations’ leadership, and a “Good Housekeeping”-type seal of approval to outside stakeholders, indicating that the organization is performing as promised after comprehensive evaluation by practitioners and industry experts.

About the Standards for Excellence Institute®

The Standards for Excellence® originated as a special initiative of Maryland Nonprofits in 1998 and has since expanded into a national program to help nonprofit organizations achieve the highest benchmarks of ethics and accountability in nonprofit governance, management, and operations.  The program is offered by twelve state, regional, and national affiliate organizations, and is supported by 150 Licensed Consultants and over 200 volunteers with professional experience in nonprofit governance and administration.  Since its inception, the program has accredited or recognized over 200 individual nonprofit organizations that completed a rigorous application and review process to demonstrate adherence to the Code.

In 2008, BoardSource named the Standards for Excellence® code as “one of the most important milestones in the field of nonprofit governance in the last 20 years.”  The Institute’s program has been cited as exemplary at hearings and roundtables before the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance and the American Society of Association Executives.

A Program of Maryland Nonprofits

Maryland Nonprofits is a statewide association whose mission is to strengthen, educate, and engage nonprofit organizations so they can successfully achieve their missions.  It represents all regions of the state and all sectors of the nonprofit community, including human service, health, educational, cultural, environmental, religious, and other charitable organizations and foundations.  Currently serving nearly 1,300 organizations, Maryland Nonprofits sponsors the Standards for Excellence Institute® to offer guidance to nonprofits throughout the United States on how to manage and govern responsibly.

I work with nonprofits to implement these Standards by incorporating educational materials, providing training, and giving one-on-one and group technical assistance. To learn how I can help you, email kristopher@madorelawllc.com or schedule some free time with me by clicking the green button in the lower right.