There’s no better time to implement the Standards for Excellence® code than right now!

It is possible to implement Best Practices for your organization’s management and governance.

Six months into 2011, the gyms that were so packed by well-meaning individuals with lofty New Year’s resolutions for getting in shape are now back to normal attendance levels. Many of us may also feel the year is now “old hat” and that we’ve lost the window of opportunity to start the exciting new initiatives and resolutions that are often geared toward the new year.

I’ve had the great opportunity this past year to work quite closely with organizations applying for recognition under the Standards for Excellence voluntary accreditation program.

Reasons for participating vary quite a bit, but they often center on themes such as: interest in propelling the organization to the next level, desire to be recognized for the good work accomplished, achieving goals associated with having strong boards, and being more attractive to donors and foundations. These organizations recognized their own need for organizational renewal and used the process as a journey to strengthen their infrastructure.

These leading organizations had an end goal in mind. They wanted to set themselves apart from the ordinary, from the other million plus organizations in the nonprofit sector.  Groups that earn the Seal tell us that earning the Seal of Excellence has assisted their organizations in a number of different ways:

  • It’s opened doors with individual donors and foundation grants
  • For some corporate givers, the fact that the organization has earned the seal conveys “instant credibility
  • “…by going through Standards for Excellence, you make [an] investment that different parts [of the organization] strengthen and reinforce each other…
  • “…created [a] better relationship between [certified] organization and [funder] . . . and gave . . .a sense of comfort that organization wouldn’t squander hard to come by  . . .funding
  • the standards program helped the organization get “ready for next phase – for board, ourselves and our constituency that we had come into our own as a young organization – we realized the places where we needed stronger staff, more skills, program issues  . . .it stretched us into growing up as an organization
  • For a new executive director, the Standards “was an incredibly fabulous way to learn all about the organization. . . Good structured opportunity – a real roadmap.”
  • The Standards program “opens discussions that might have been hard to have. . .”
  • For an organization that faced some tough times, [earning the seal has] “helped them get their reputation back … It was really their turning point for their organization and people now look at agency as a reputable one.”
  • “Floodgates opened up—got new foundation money in the doors
  • helped get funding from major funders”  
  • Standards program helped give an organization “instant credibility” particularly during a time when others in their service area where undergoing significant scrutiny
  • Being in [a competitive nonprofit area], nonprofits have to work twice a hard for credibility.  We had no foundation funding. [Then we earned the seal and received foundation support] . . .  it all started to fall in line – a methodology of making ourselves more credible
  • “Biggest return has been within the organization… staff feels good…board feels good.”
  • With some grant applications, organizations that have earned the Seal of Excellence are exempted from turning in certain documents

For a full list of nonprofit organizations currently licensed to display the Seal of Excellence for their adherence to each one of the fifty-five performance measures outlined in the Standards for Excellence: An Ethics and Accountability Code for the Nonprofit Sector, click here.

For more information on how your nonprofit organization can earn the Seal of Excellence for its governance and management practices, please visit our website or contact Standards for Excellence Institute Certification Manager Melissa Sines at or 410 -727-1726 ext 2337.


About Amy Coates Madsen

Amy Coates Madsen serves as the Program Director of the Standards for Excellence Institute.
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