Replication Partner Announces Support for Standards for Excellence Training

October 20, 2014 by


Standards for Excellence Replication Partner Delaware Alliance for Nonprofit Advancement recently announced its partnership with Discover Bank, which is supporting DANA in its efforts to bring more quality trainings to nonprofits in the  southern region of the state.

Upcoming courses in the DANA fall 2014 curriculum are supported by Discover Bank. They include an Introduction to Standards for Excellence on Friday, Dec. 12.

According to, “DANA’s revitalization began in 2010 and came to a head in 2012 with the creation of a new three-year strategic plan to become a completely statewide nonprofit support organization. In previous years, expansion of DANA programming into Kent and Sussex counties was limited due to staff and funding constraints. Now, with more staff members in place, and the support from Discover Bank, DANA is increasing its presence in southern Delaware.”

“‘We are thrilled that Discover Bank is on board with us in our efforts to expand our programming in Kent and Sussex counties, and we thank them for their support,’ said Chris Grundner, DANA president and CEO. ‘Discover Bank is a huge champion for nonprofits across the state, but particularly in Kent and Sussex counties. We are pleased they believe our Standards for Excellence best-practice-based curriculum can help these groups as they strive to reach greater levels of efficiency and execution.'”

Read the official story in

Eight Newly-Accredited Nonprofits in Alabama Make History

October 16, 2014 by

On Friday, October 10, eight nonprofit organizations in Alabama were presented with the Standards for Excellence Institute’s Seal of Excellence as they celebrated their completion of the rigorous nonprofit accreditation program. Through a partnership with Standards for Excellence Replication Partner Alabama Association of Nonprofits, the Community Foundation of Northeast Alabama, and United Way of East Central Alabama, a three-day teaching session for executive directors and board members was held for these organizations.  Additionally, a Standards for Excellence Coordinator was hired to assist the organizations navigate through the accreditation process.

Program Director Amy Coates Madsen attended the celebration at the Anniston Country Club that included a press conference and formal presentation of the Seals. Reporters from local media, including the Anniston Star and WEAC TV24, were in attendance.

Please join us in congratulating these exemplary nonprofits and their leaders in this inaugural Standards for Excellence class.

Congratulations To Our September/October Organizations!

October 13, 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:

Read Standards for Excellence Accreditation Manager Melissa Sines’s Blog on BoardSource

October 3, 2014 by


Standards for Excellence Accreditation Manager Melissa Sines was a featured speaker at the 2014 BoardSource Leadership Forum in Washington D.C. on October 9-10. Learn about her session topic, Standards for Excellence: Focus on Leadership, from her recent post on BoardSource’s blog.

The Standards for Excellence session at this year’s BLF introduced organizational leaders to a proven set of benchmarks that will help them assess their capacity, leadership, and accountability. Participants utilized an assessment tool to measure the strength of their leadership and organization and had the opportunity to ask questions about how these benchmarks are implemented in different types and sizes of nonprofits.

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.


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