CEO of Replication Partner Delaware Alliance for Nonprofit Advancement gives talk at TEDx Wilmington.

September 22, 2014 by

Watch Chris Grudner, CEO of Replication Partner Delaware Alliance for Nonprofit Advancement, give talk at TEDx Wilmington.

“Modern Nonprofit Board Governance – Passion Is Not Enough!”

Congratulations To Our August/September Organizations!

September 16, 2014 by


The Standards for Excellence Institute would like to congratulate several organizations who recently earned or renewed their accreditation under the Standards for Excellence: An Ethics and Accountability Code for the Nonprofit Sector:

Standards for Excellence Proud to be ‘External Perspective’ Program Listed on GuideStar

September 15, 2014 by

The following piece was originally published on September 9, 204 at GuideStars’s blog at

With interest and a bit of nostalgia, I read Jacob Harold’s recent post on this blog, “Celebrating Our Past, Looking to Our Future.”

Now, there is a new feature on the GuideStar site. Under the External Perspectives tab on each organization’s profile, GuideStar visitors can view Third Party Ratings, Accreditations, and Awards. Here, potential donors, volunteers, and others interested in nonprofit performance can learn if an organization has been accredited by the Standards for Excellence Institute, or has been recognized under their Basics or Basics Enhanced tiered recognition program.I have always admired GuideStar for being innovative and nimble. From those early days when information was presented on CD Rom and those phone-book style catalogs (Directory of American Charities; I had a copy of this publication and CD on my bookshelf for years!), to today’s searchable database full of profiles populated by IRS tax forms and information freely uploaded by nonprofit staffers and volunteers around the country, GuideStar, has been a great example of an organization that continually adjusts and improves in order to meet the needs of its market.

Basics      Basics Enhanced     SEALcrop

The Standards for Excellence Institute® is a national program providing a code of conduct, nonprofit governance, and management resources to support organizations in implementing the standards, and accreditation opportunities for nonprofits to embrace best practices. Established in 1998 by Maryland Nonprofits, the program promotes a comprehensive system for self-regulation in the nonprofit sector to strengthen nonprofit governance and management practices and to bolster public confidence in and support for the nonprofit sector as a whole.

The Standards for Excellence®: An Ethics and Accountability Code for the Nonprofit Sector, the Institute’s signature resource, has a 16-year track record of successfully motivating organizations to adopt leading best practices. Research has shown that organizations that complete the Standards for Excellence accreditation process gain significantly more public support and significantly greater total revenue than a control group of comparable organizations.

Nonprofits can participate in the program directly through the Institute, through one of the Institute’s licensed replication partners, or one of the nearly 70 Standards for Excellence Licensed Consultants working directly with nonprofits around the country.

In April, after more than a year of hard work by a national team of nonprofit leaders, the Standards for Excellence Institute released its updated code. The Standards code has been streamlined and now includes important best practices such as sustainability planning, cultural competency, board-executive relations, and disaster planning. For a full discussion of this revision, check out recent articles in both the Chronicle of Philanthropy and Nonprofit Business Advisor.

Are you curious whether your organization has implemented the best practices that would allow you to earn the Seal of Excellence? Take this free self-assessment!

The preceding was a guest post on GuideStar’s blog by Amy Coates Madsen, the Director of the Standards for Excellence Institute. The Standards for Excellence Institute is a program of Maryland Nonprofits where Amy has served for more than nineteen years. She serves as a frequent trainer and writer in the areas of nonprofit best practices, board conduct, program evaluation, program replication, fundraising ethics and regulation, and nonprofit management. Amy is active in community organizations and was recently appointed to the IRS Advisory Committee on Tax-Exempt and Government Entities.

“Academy for Nonprofit Excellence A Local Gem”

September 9, 2014 by

Amy Coates Madsen, Director of the Standards for Excellence Institute, is one of several “stellar practitioners in their chosen fields” at Tidewater Community College’s Academy for Nonprofit Excellence.

Business planning at the white board

“I love the classes; they’re wonderful. I knew enough about being a volunteer, but not the nitty-gritty. It’s a business,” says Academy student Melia Trost, founder of Samantha Makes It A Little Easier, Inc.

In September, the Academy will receive the
National Council for Continuing Education & Training (NCCET) 2014 National Exemplary Program Award for Continuing Professional Education.

Read more about the Academy for Nonprofit Excellence.

One Assumption Board Presidents Should NEVER Make

September 4, 2014 by

We are pleased to bring you this article from Susan Detwiler, Standards for Excellence Licensed Consultant. 


Whether or not your board acts like a team may actually depend on whether you’ve told them they are.

There’s great research  out now that proves that teams are more productive when they’re told they’re working together.  In the research, small groups of people met, were then separated and each individual was given tasks to complete. Individuals in one group (the “Together” group) were told they were working together, though they remained physically separated. Individuals who met in the other group were given the same tasks, but were not told they were working together. In each case, the participant was given a hint or clue to help them perform the tasks. Those in the “Together” group were told it came from another member of the group. Those in the other group were told it came from staff.


The individuals from the “Together” group not only did better than the individuals in the other group, but they stayed at the tasks 48% longer, solved more of the tasks, and found the tasks more interesting. In other words, just being told that they were working “together” created an environment in which they were more motivated and more engaged in the task at hand.

In the words of Heidi Grant Halvorson

“The word “together” is a powerful social cue to the brain.  In and of itself, it seems to serve as a kind of relatedness reward, signaling that you belong, that you are connected, and that there are people you can trust working with you toward the same goal.”

As other research has shown, human beings are just naturally social. We have been bred over millennia to be attuned to others. Even when we believe ourselves to be introverts, we want to know that there are others out there to whom we can relate in our own way.

That’s why, when we bring new members onto a board of directors, it is understandable that there is an initial feeling of uncertainty. The other members have a shared history. There are references to previous decisions and previous board members. Shortening the time it takes to overcome these feelings of alienation increases the likelihood that board service will be a positive experience.Introducing new board members by emphasizing that they will be working together with the rest of the team can accelerate building new relationships.

This also holds true for existing board members. Each board discussion and each board decision should explicitly be made “together.” References to working together for the sake of the institution or the mission reinforces the importance of each individual role in building success.

The post was originally published by the Detwiler Group.  Susan Detwiler is a Standards for Excellence® Licensed Consultant who specializes in strategic planning, governance, board excellence and facilitation. Located in the MidAtlantic, she works with agencies across the United States. Have some thoughts to share on this subject?  Get in touch with her at

Standards for Excellence Institute Director Appointed to ACT Committee

September 1, 2014 by

The Standards for Excellence Institute is pleased to announce that its Director, Amy Coates Madsen, has been appointed to the Internal Revenue Service’s Advisory Committee on Tax Exempt and Government Entities (ACT).



Amy officially joined the ACT Panel on June 11, 2014. She was one of two appointees to the exempt organizations sub-committee. The ACT includes external stakeholders and representatives who deal with employee retirement plans; tax-exempt organizations; tax-exempt bonds; federal, state, local and Indian tribal governments. ACT members are appointed by the Secretary of the Treasury and generally serve two-year terms. They advise the IRS on operational policy and procedural improvements.

“I am honored to be selected to be a part of the ACT and am excited for the opportunity to provide input to the IRS, particularly sharing the perspective of small and medium sized organizations,” says Ms. Coates Madsen.

The ACT was established under the Federal Advisory Committee Act to provide an organized public forum for discussion of relevant issues affecting the tax exempt and government entities communities.

Greg Cantori, CEO of the Standards for Excellence Institute comments “Ms. Coates Madsen’s expertise in nonprofit governance and best-practices is immense. Her appointment will no doubt provide a wealth of knowledge to this important panel of experts in the area of tax-exempt organizations.”

Read the full Press Release.

Sealholder Profile: Maryland-DC Campus Compact

August 27, 2014 by

We are pleased to bring you this Sealholder Profile, written by Standards for Excellence intern Tammy McCubbin. Tammy is presently working towards a Master of Science degree in Human Services Administration from University of Baltimore, Coppin State University.


The Maryland-DC Campus Compact (MDCCC) is a membership association of public, private, 2-year and 4-year colleges and universities. Initiated in 2008, MDCCC mobilizes the collective commitment and capacity of higher education to actively advance communities through civic and community engagement.  MDCCC provides leadership to colleges and universities in Maryland and Washington DC by advocating and encouraging institutional participation in co-curricular and academic-based public service and civic engagement programs. Maryland-DC Campus Compact became fully accredited by the Standards for Excellence Institute in July 2014.

MDCCC works to mobilize public service and civic engagement programs such as AmeriCorps Vista. AmeriCorps VISTA helps individuals and communities implement grassroots solutions designed to alleviate poverty. Initiated in 1997, Campus Compact VISTA programs join the mission of Campus Compact and AmeriCorps VISTA through projects that build campus-community partnerships to fight poverty.

Executive Director, Madeline Yates, noted about their accomplishment “frankly, our organization had a very positive experience with the Standards for Excellence process. It helped us clarify and strengthen our organizational policies and procedures, and essentially made us more effective in achieving our mission.  We received excellent technical assistance from Melissa Sines at Maryland Nonprofits’ Standards for Excellence Institute.”

Madeline Yates recalls that she first learned about Standards of Excellence “through the Weinberg Fellows program which offers high quality professional development for executive directors in our state. At Maryland Nonprofits’ annual conference I then re-connected with a fellow Weinberg colleague who had gone through the process herself and indicated that it really strengthened her knowledge of how to be an effective [executive director] and enhance her organization.”

For more information about the Maryland-DC Campus Compact, please visit their website at The Maryland DC Campus Compact is located at 401 Rosemont Avenue in Frederick, MD.

Nonprofit Business Advisor Features Enhanced Code of Excellence

August 26, 2014 by


Nonprofit Business Advisor, one of the leading industry newsletters that provides practical guidance on current issues and best practices for operations, fundraising, and compliance, featured the Standards for Excellence Institute and the enhanced Code of Ethics in its August Newsletter. Read the full piece here.


Congratulations To Our July Organizations!

August 23, 2014 by


The Standards for Excellence Institute would like to congratulate several organizations who recently earned or renewed their accreditation under the Standards for Excellence: An Ethics and Accountability Code for the Nonprofit Sector:

We would also like to congratulate the following organizations who have earned their recognition under the Standards for Excellence Institute’s Standards Basics program:

Guidestar USA To Highlight Recognition By Standards For Excellence Institute On Online Nonprofit Reports

August 21, 2014 by

The Standards for Excellence Institute is very pleased to announce that organizations who have completed the rigorous accreditation and recognition programs will be identified for their achievement on GuideStar©,

Beginning August 2014, GuideStar USA, the leading source of nonprofit information, will highlight Standards for Excellence accredited and recognized nonprofits by displaying a trademarked logo that refers to their level of accomplishment. The logos will appear in the External Perspectives section of each nonprofit’s report on GuideStar.


“We are thrilled to partner with the Standards for Excellence Institute on this new initiative,” said Erinn Andrews, GuideStar’s senior director of nonprofit strategy. “The Seals of Excellence will help donors easily identify exceptional nonprofits that have been accredited and are worthy of further consideration. We believe that by integrating information from external groups like the Standards for Excellence Institute, the 7 million annual visitors to GuideStar’s website will have a more complete picture of the nonprofit’s qualifications.”

Greg Cantori, President and CEO of the Standards for Excellence Institute, says “Individuals and donors throughout the country are looking for opportunities to support charities that they can trust. GuideStar’s choice to highlight organizations that meet the highest standards in efficiency, transparency and governance with the Standards for Excellence Institute will make it easier than ever for you to make informed decisions with your generous contributions.” 

GuideStar,, is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that connects people and organizations with information on the programs, finances, and impact of more than 1.8 million IRS-recognized nonprofits. GuideStar, a CFC Charitable Organization #75786, serves a wide audience inside and outside the nonprofit sector, including individual donors, nonprofit leaders, grantmakers, government officials, academic researchers, and the media.

Read the official Press Release.




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