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

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.


About Amy Coates Madsen

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