Leaders of Accredited Organizations Recognized as “Most Admired CEOs”

July 18, 2014 by

Maryland’s The Daily Record has announced its 2014 Maryland’s Most Admired CEOs, a group of 30 top leaders in for-profit businesses and nonprofit organizations statewide.

William McLennan, Executive Director of Paul’s Place, and Stephen H. Morgan, Executive Director of The Arc Baltimore, are among the honorees. Paul’s Place earned their Standards for Excellence accreditation in 2004, and The Arc Baltimore earned their accreditation in 2005 through a partnership with The Arc of the United States.

The Daily Record launched its Most Admired CEOs program in 2012 in order to seek out and recognize remarkable business and nonprofit leaders in Maryland. Nominations for the award were solicited from the public, and winners were chosen by a panel of eight past Most Admired CEOs honorees and a representative of The Daily Record. Nominees were judged on their professional experience, community involvement and commitment to inspiring change.

“I am truly humbled and honored. Paul’s Place is a team effort, and I work with an amazing staff, board and group of volunteers.” says Mr. McLennan.

Mr. Morgan stated that he “appreciates the recognition. I feel honored to share this with my colleagues, both internally and externally, who have contributed to our successes.”

Paul’s Place’s mission is to be a catalyst and leader for change, improving the quality of life in the Washington Village/Pigtown neighborhood and the surrounding Southwest Baltimore communities. Paul’s Place provides programs, services, and support that strengthen individuals and families, fostering hope, personal dignity and growth.

The Arc Baltimore’s mission it to provide advocacy and high quality, life-changing supports to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families.

The Standards for Excellence Institute would like to congratulate Mr. McLennan and Mr. Morgan on their recognition and for the great work they do.


Sealholder Profile: Class Acts Arts

July 18, 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.


Class Acts Arts is a nonprofit arts-outreach organization that brings interactive performances, workshops and residencies to local communities. Their programs represent a broad range of artistic disciplines and cultural traditions. Class Acts Arts works with youth, children, and families throughout the Maryland, District of Columbia, and Northern Virginia regions, with goals to strengthen education, stimulate creative self-expression, and inspire a fresh view of the world.

The organization brings a scope of activities into the community to inspire a global world view. Class Acts Arts enhances art education in schools and communities with interactive programs that meet curriculum standards through the arts, and provide unique opportunities for cross-cultural learning. Class Acts Art also works with underserved populations through such programs as Project Youth ArtReach, which promotes positive youth development by providing juvenile offenders in detention, corrections, and probation settings with arts programs taught by master artists.

Executive Director, James E. Modrick, noted about their accomplishment “Receiving the Standards for Excellence is a very proud moment for the Class Acts Arts Board of Directors. Even with an executive transition in the midst of the application process, the Standards kept our focus on the governance and fiscal oversight of the organization. We continue to see improvement in our operations and the board as a result of this process.”

For more information about the Class Acts Arts, please visit their website at www.classactsarts.org. Class Acts Arts is located at 700 Roeder Road in Silver Spring, MD.

Become a Standards for Excellence Peer Reviewer!

July 16, 2014 by


Volunteering as a Standards for Excellence Peer Reviewer is a truly special type of volunteer experience. Unlike more traditional volunteer roles, Peer Reviewers are trained individuals responsible for evaluating an organization’s application for compliance with the Standards for Excellence: An Ethics and Accountability Code for the Nonprofit Sector®. Using a peer review process ensures that individuals with diverse opinions and expertise in the nonprofit sector review application packages and that the outcomes will be fair and unbiased.

This volunteer opportunity offers many benefits:

  • Contribute to strengthening ethics and accountability in the nonprofit sector
  • Network with other nonprofit management professionals
  • Access professional development for your analytical and assessment skills
  • Receive complimentary registration to Standards for Excellence-related training programs

Peer Reviewer Job Description

Volunteers are encouraged to promote their peer review experience on their resumes and professional networks as a compliment to their professional experience in the nonprofit sector. If you are interested in this opportunity, please complete the online application. If you have any questions, please contact Susan Larsen at 443-438-2323.

Congratulations To Our May/June Organizations!

July 10, 2014 by


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

Exclusive Interview: How They Did It!

July 9, 2014 by

We are pleased to bring you this article from Susan Detwiler, Standards for Excellence Licensed Consultant.  This topic, an important issue for all nonprofits helps us to consider the importance of benchmarks in the Standards for Excellence: An Ethics and Accountability Code for the Nonprofit Sector  on board diversity which states “The board should establish a rigorous board development strategy for recruiting and selecting new members and ensuring that the board has an appropriate mix of talent, connections to the community, and diversity.”

Moving your board toward diversity is tough. Everyone knows it has to be done; yet, as Newton’s first law of motion states, a body at rest tends to stay at rest. Inertia, the tendency of a body to resist change, is the norm. Similarly, without a push or a pull, we continue to look to our usual sources for new board members. Or worse, to satisfy ‘best practice’ requirements, we collect tokens.

But what if the incentive is big enough to disrupt the inertia? If your board foresaw a financial crisis, all of a sudden the trustees would start looking for funds. But what external force would push a board to focus on diversity? Is there a compelling reason to really embrace diversity on a board?

Yes. The future.

definition of diversity As reported by David Feitler in Harvard Business Review, two different studies show that diverse groups are more likely to foster innovation. Prof. Lee Fleming and his colleagues at Stanford University found that “higher-valued industrial innovation…is more likely to arise when diverse teams are assembled of people with deep subject matter expertise in their areas.” Prof. Ben Jones and colleagues at Kellogg Business School of Northwestern University found that “the most influential [research] papers…exhibited an intrusion of interdisciplinary information” and “groups were more likely to foster these intrusions than solo researchers.”

Surprisingly, it’s not a great leap to go from research and industrial innovation to nonprofit boards; even in the nonprofit sector, research supports the idea that greater diversity promotes greater organization success.

Of course, research is great, but if you want to hear a real world example, I can attest to the excitement that comes from having a diverse board. Meeting with the board of a regional theater group, I showed them a headline from five years in the future. “Exclusive interview: Theatre Group tells how they did it!”

Their assignment? For the next ten minutes, write down what amazing things the organization had accomplished that prompted this headline. What activities or initiatives did you take that made it possible? How did you do it? Whom did you collaborate with? What did it do for the community?

When we regrouped, the stories started emerging. But instead of centering on what the organization was currently doing, each individAbstract Artual brought her own vision of what the organization could become. One focused on the what the competedcapital campaign would make possible. One added the idea that theireducation programs became a template for programs across the country. Another focused on building the writers’ workshops. Another focused oncollaboration with a number of other community arts organizations. As each idea was presented, conversation grew more animated, as each added details from their own backgrounds.

Because of the diversity in age, experience, life stage, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status, they built a rich picture of the future that no single one of them could have imagined. The stories they created together are forming the basis for a vision toward which they’ll work.

This same exercise, in a much less diverse group, produced stories that were less visionary.  Group members were almost all of the same ethnicity, age range and socio-economic level.  They built on each others’ ideas, but with incremental steps in the same direction.  The difference between the two groups was evident.

We tell people to think outside the box, but it’s not easy.  We are bound by our own experience.  Yet when your board is filled with people who naturally come from other backgrounds, the scope of imagination is enlarged by this rich diversity.

Diversity isn’t a box to check on a grant application, or an ‘ought to have.  Diversity of experience and thought is vital to the future of your organization.

This 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 sdetwiler@detwiler.com. 

PA’s South Central Community Action Programs, Inc. Discusses Building a Bright Future in GettysburgTimes.com

July 9, 2014 by


Megan Shreve, Executive Director of South Central Community Action Programs, Inc. (SCCAP) recently discussed her organization’s experience with the Standards for Excellence accreditation program on GettysburgTimes.com.

“What is really, really valuable is the work, insight and improvement that took place through the process!”

Read how SCCAP is “Building a Bright Future” here.

Keeping the Focus on the Mission

July 7, 2014 by

We’re pleased to bring you this guest blog post from Maribel Torres-Pinero, CPA, CEO & Director of Client Accounting Services at Lumix CPAs and Advisors.  Maribel is a Standards for Excellence Peer Reviewer.  

You start with the mission – Point A.  This is your intent.  You want to achieve the objectives – Point B which is stated in your mission.  This is your goal.  You then create your annual report, which is a way of showcasing your accomplishments.  The fundamental message of this report is demonstrate how well you’ve connected the dots.  So why did your annual report miss point B?

Many organizations report on accomplishments that do not address their stated mission or there is no clear and logical connection between their intent and their achievements.  Some organizations measure activities instead of results. I suspect that many find themselves confronted with having to report their accomplishments, and at the time, come up with the best available data that somehow measures what they’ve done.  This is a last-minute exercise at displaying such a vital aspect of your organization.  I view this as a lack of proper planning at the time you set your mission and improper mapping of those essential points that align your intent with your accomplishments.

Your mission should be as specific as possible, stating a narrowly focused intent.  You can have a short-term mission and revise as you grow and are able to tackle broader issues.  A laser beam intent should be one that can be translated to a specific target by a specific date.  From the perspective of your mission, you should be aiming directly at your accomplishments. There it is: Point A to Point B.


However, getting from Point A to Point B is not necessarily a direct route.  Along the way, you should be hitting the following points that will keep you on track:

  1. What specifically will I accomplish?  State your accomplishments now as if you were writing it in your annual report.  State accomplishments based on how you have affected your constituents, not based on your activities.How will I measure these accomplishments?  It is crucial at this time to set up a system of measurements or metrics that include a base line, questionnaires, follow up calls or visits and other proactive methods of obtaining data.
  2. Strategic plan: This plan, regardless of how simple or complex, or whether it is short term or long term, should be aligned with your stated intent and should have measurements incorporated to each strategic objective.  This document should faithfully mirror your mission, but if it does not have clearly defined measurements that document real accomplishments, you may have created an instant disconnect from your mission.
  1. Annual budgets: A budget is a plan for financial activity and results of operations.  This plan should be aligned with your strategic plan, addressing each strategic objective.  If you have more than one program, create a budget by program, then make sure the planned expenses and operational results are consistent with your strategic objective. The planned use of your organization funds should have a clear connection to achieving the intended results.
  1. Faithfully monitor the system of accumulating data on your accomplishments.  This system is as important as your accounting system, and modern technology allows us to accumulate this data in real time with your accounting data.  You should have access to the data and review it at least monthly, if not more frequently.  Any negative trends or indication that you will not meet your target should be addressed proactively.  If feasible, each program should have its own set of measurements and targets.
  1. Quarterly budget to actual reports. The Board should review these reports and understand any deviations from the plan, particularly for each individual program.  Ask the question, “How does this result affect our targeted accomplishments?”
  1. Quarterly dashboard reports.  These reports should report on preliminary accomplishments against the yearly target and describe how these are measured.  Ask the question, “Are we on target and if not, how do we shift to meet or exceed our target?”

At any stage of your organization’s life, it’s worth taking a few steps back to ensure that your mission is properly aligned with your actions to produce the desired results, measured in objective accomplishments to those you serve.

Now Accepting Nominations For Our Ethics Standards Committee

July 3, 2014 by

We are seeking a few excellent candidates to serve as members of our National Ethics Standards Committee. The National Ethics Standards Committee is charged with overseeing the Accreditation and Recognition Program of the Standards for Excellence Institute, a project of Maryland Nonprofits. The Committee’s main roles and responsibilities include:

  • Providing advice and guidance to staff regarding the periodic review and evaluation of the application policies, procedures, and processes;
  • Providing advice and guidance to staff regarding the periodic review of content of the Standards for Excellence: An Ethics and Accountability Code for the Nonprofit Sector;
  • Reviewing and approving or denying all Accreditation or Standards Basics Enhanced applications.

Nonprofit senior staff, board members, funders, educators, and experienced nonprofit consultants, accountants, and lawyers are eligible for recruitment or nomination to the Committee. Members typically have 10+ years of management or governance experience working with nonprofit organizations across a broad spectrum of areas.

This prestigious volunteer opportunity offers many benefits:

  • Contribute to strengthening ethics and accountability in the nonprofit sector
  • Network with other nonprofit management professionals
  • Access professional development for your analytical and assessment skills

To nominate yourself or a colleague for this important post, please fill out this nomination form.

Dear Nonprofit Board President…By Susan Detwiler

June 30, 2014 by

We’re pleased to bring you this guest blog post from Susan Detwiler of The Detwiler Group.  Susan is a Standards for Excellence Licensed Consultant.  Standards for Excellence Licensed Consultants are an elite group of independent consultants that have been selected by the Standards for Excellence Institute and have received extensive training in using the Standards for Excellence code and program materials for the advancement of their work and the nonprofits and other institutions with whom they work.  To find a Licensed Consultant in your area, check out the online listing of Licensed Consultants.  For more information on applying to become a Licensed Consultant, click here for application information (The deadline for the Class of 2014 is July 8, 2014). 

Dear Nonprofit Board President,

Your board members need to hear this. In person. From you.  

Thank you for all the time and wisdom you’ve been contributing to our organization.  We have a firm foundation now, with a great executive at the helm.  

Our clients rely on us to change their lives. You’ve heard their stories; and I’ve heard how passionate you are about what we do.  

Every time we’ve invested in making our dreams happen, we’ve had a great return on that investment. We invested time and energy into finding a path out of debt. We invested time and energy into finding our new executive.  

And in the last year, we’ve made great plans for the future.   Now we have to make those plans a reality. When you joined the board, you made a commitment to invest in our future.

It’s time to fulfill that commitment so we can start the new year knowing we can make those goals come true.  

Please join me in making this organization, that I know you passionately love, your top philanthropic priority.  

You have a vital responsibility to your agency (big or small!) to take your job to effectively lead your fellow board members seriously. As the President, you lead. Your words carry weight.   If your board members think the only reason for 100% participation is so other funders will give to you, then you need to rethink who’s on your board.   Donors give money. Volunteers give time. Board members do both.  

If you’d like to hear more about inspiring your board members  – please get in touch. I’d love to hear from you. Susan [link to sdetwiler@detwiler.com]   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 sdetwiler@detwiler.com.

Standards For Excellence® Institute Announces Newest Partner, The Partnership for Nonprofit Excellence

June 25, 2014 by


Baltimore, MD – The Partnership for Nonprofit Excellence, central Virginia’s go-to nonprofit capacity building hub, announced in May that it is now a Replication Partner of the Standards for Excellence Institute. There are over 1,600 nonprofit organizations in Central Virginia, and the Partnership for Nonprofit Excellence (“PNE”) wants to help each one of them remain sustainable and strengthen their community.

Standards for Excellence is a national initiative that is designed to promote the highest standards of nonprofit governance, management, and operations. As a Replication Partner, PNE—through its Organizational Solutions program—will bring the full complement of Standards for Excellence educational resources, expertise, and programming to Central Virginia’s nonprofit community.

“Nonprofits contribute significantly to the cultural, social and economic landscape. It is imperative that nonprofits of all sizes be effective, efficient, credible and transparent as they strive to meet critical community needs. Standards for Excellence provides the tools and templates that enable nonprofits to get a better and faster handle on their policies and practices while maintaining a focus on meeting their mission,” said Melissa Hough, President & CEO of the Partnership for Nonprofit Excellence.

Local nonprofits of all sizes can benefit from the content-rich training, assessment tools, resource materials, and technical assistance provided by Standards for Excellence Institute. The PNE has launched a summer cohort training opportunity for local nonprofits to become early adopters of Standards for Excellence. Cohort participants will learn about and implement best practices that will enhance their ability to deliver on their missions effectively and efficiently. Topical areas that will be covered in the Standards for Excellence programming include Leadership:  Board, Staff, and Volunteers; Legal Compliance and Ethics; Resource Development; Finance and Operations; Public Awareness, Engagement, and Advocacy; and Mission, Strategy, and Evaluation. Funding for implementing the Standards for Excellence program locally has been generously provided by Altria. Additionally, cohort participants will receive a portion of their programming fees underwritten by Flashpoint Fund, a philanthropic organization focused exclusively on charitable organizations that benefit the greater Richmond area.

“We’ve been searching for some time for a program with the comprehensive resources designed to help nonprofits better achieve sustainability. Sustainability goes beyond financial stability. It includes all of the operational aspects required to ensure strong business functionality. We are pleased that we can bring the Standards for Excellence to Central Virginia,” continued Hough.

Darcy S. Oman, President & CEO, The Community Foundation Serving Richmond and Central Virginia, added, “Building stronger nonprofits means building stronger communities. The Community Foundation is pleased to support the PNE in offering Standards for Excellence as a comprehensive tool and management resource to promote and recognize operational excellence in the nonprofit sector.”

PNE will begin to offer full Standards for Excellence programming in September 2014. Nonprofits in Central Virginia who are interested in learning more should go to http://www.orgsolutions.org or contact Jenay Barbee, Senior Manager, Organizational Solutions, PNE at (804)330-7027 ext.134 or at jbarbee@pnerichmond.org. For more information on the Standards for Excellence Institute, contact Amy Coates Madsen, Director at (410) 727‐1726 ext. 2314or atacmadsen@standardsforexcellenceinstitute.org.

About Partnership for Nonprofit Excellence (PNE)

The Partnership for Nonprofit Excellence is an affiliation of four programs that provide nonprofits in Central Virginia with the tools they need to improve their effectiveness and efficiency for greater impact. The four programs, Nonprofit Learning Point, ConnectVA, HandsOn Greater Richmond, and Organizational Solutions, provide a comprehensive support system so nonprofits can collaborate successfully, employ best practices, and gain access to a wealth of volunteers. By opening the door to such resources as project management expertise, communications tools, and ongoing professional development, the PNE helps nonprofits achieve their mission. The Partnership for Nonprofit Excellence was created in 2006 by The Community Foundation Serving Richmond and Central Virginia with the common goal of helping local nonprofit succeed and is now supported by multiple funders. www.pnerichmond.org.


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