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Maryland Association of Nonprofit Organizations Standards for Excellence in the Nonprofit Sector

"In today's world, nonprofits cannot simply be "do-gooders". Nonprofits must act ethically and be held accountable for achieving results. The Standards for Excellence give nonprofit board and staff leaders the tools they need to strengthen the quality and integrity of management in their organizations."
Walter Sondheim
Greater Baltimore Committee

The Maryland Association of Nonprofit Organizations (Maryland Nonprofits) Standards for Excellence program is designed to promote excellence and integrity in nonprofit management. Organizations volunteer for participation, and their internal practices are subjected to a rigorous "ethics check up."

The Standards for Excellence: An Ethics and Accountability Code for the Nonprofit Sector (Standards) is the centerpiece of the program. The Standards are based on honesty, integrity, fairness, respect, trust, responsibility, and accountability in nonprofit program operations, governance, human resources, financial management and fundraising.

The Standards for Excellence set a high benchmark. They go beyond the minimum legal requirements by outlining how well managed and responsibly governed nonprofits should operate.

The Standards cover eight areas of nonprofit operations
?Mission and Program ?Financial and Legal Accountability
?Governing Board ?Openness and Disclosure
?Conflicts of Interest ?Fundraising
?Human Resources ?Public Policy and Public Affairs

The Standards cover a broad range of topics such as: how many times each year an organization's board of directors should meet, what subjects should be covered in an organization's personnel policies, and when audited financial statements should be prepared. The Standards also mandate that organizations have procedures in place to evaluate their programs and require board members to disclose any conflicts of interest.

A Voluntary Certification Program
Maryland Nonprofits offers a voluntary, peer-review, certification program for nonprofit organizations interested in demonstrating that they carry out the Standards for Excellence. Those organizations that prove compliance become certified and to participate, organizations must submit a written application, provide documentation, and pay an application fee.

A panel of trained peer-reviewers assess the applicant's practices and determines if they have met the Standards. Certified organizations are given permission to use the Seal of Excellence, a symbol the public and donors alike can trust.

Maryland Nonprofits Helps Nonprofits Achieve the Standards
?Maryland Nonprofits works with its members to implement the Standards in their organizations by offering written educational materials, training seminars, and one-on-one assistance to organizations.

Standards for Excellence: A Symbol of Trust
Only organizations that demonstrate their compliance with the Standards for Excellence are given permission to use the Seal of Excellence.

ĚThe Seal of Excellence is a symbol for trust. Organizations that display the seal not only obey the law, but go beyond the minimum requirements set forth by government regulation.
?The Seal of Excellence is a symbol for excellence in nonprofit management.
Organizations which display the seal are guided by a well defined mission, have evaluation systems in place to measure the effectiveness of their programs, and adhere to sound financial management policies.
?The Seal of Excellence is a symbol for excellence in leadership.
Organizations that display the seal are led by a volunteer board of directors that accepts responsibility to oversee the organization's mission, policies, programs, human and financial resources.
?The Seal of Excellence is a symbol for openness and disclosure in nonprofits.
Organizations that display the seal have information available to the public, provide truthful responsible stewardship of all donations, and provide a voice for their constituents.

Sponsored by Maryland Nonprofits
Maryland Nonprofits is a statewide association of more than 850 nonprofit organizations, representing all regions of the state and all sectors of the nonprofit community including human service, health, educational, cultural, environmental, religious, and other charitable organizations and foundations. Maryland Nonprofits' mission is to strengthen and improve individual nonprofit organizations and the nonprofit sector as a whole, while also working to bolster public confidence in and support for nonprofit organizations.

For more information about the Standards for Excellence program or to request a copy of the Standards, call Maryland Nonprofits directly at 410-727-6367 or 800-273-6367 (in state only).
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