For Immediate Release

April 30, 2014

Contacts: Amy Coates Madsen, Program Director, and Greg Cantori, President & CEO

Phone:      410-727-1726 ext .2314

Baltimore, MD ̶  The Standards for Excellence Institute, a nation-wide program that promotes self-regulation of ethical and accountable practices within the nonprofit sector, today is announcing comprehensive enhancements to its signature resource, Standards for Excellence: An Ethics and Accountability Code for the Nonprofit Sector®. The enhancements will be implemented into the program beginning on April 30, 2014.

Cropped Code Cover

A Taskforce of Experts

In August 2012, nonprofit experts from across the country were invited to serve on a national taskforce to examine the original Standards for Excellence code and to identify opportunities for development. The review concluded in July 2013 and included an extensive environmental scan of Standards for Excellence Institute members, Seal holders, partners, as well as nonprofit professionals and members of the general public. The taskforce’s work resulted in a fully revitalized program and distinct additions to the code in areas such as sustainability planning, resource development, cultural competency, board-executive relations, and disaster planning. Members of the Standards for Excellence Institute community will have access to revised educational resources, and thorough trainings and seminars will be offered to illustrate the enhancements.

Nonprofits Enroll in Standards for Excellence Accreditation

The Standards for Excellence Institute is committed to raising the level of principled and responsible practices within the nonprofit sector. The Institute provides a model for organizations to implement in their operating plans so they can gain a deeper understanding of their effectiveness, improve their decision-making and minimize risks. Nonprofits that adhere to this model can become formally accredited under the Standards for Excellence codeand earn the right to display the Seal of Excellence throughout their organization.

A recent research study conducted by faculty at Suffolk University, the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and the University of Louisiana at Lafayette found that nonprofit organizations exhibit tangible benefits from receiving the Standards for Excellence accreditation. The study illustrates that the accreditation process is associated with an increase in direct public support, and that stakeholders will react positively to organizations receiving the Standards for Excellence accreditation by allocating more resources to the nonprofit. The researchers indicate that the results provide supporting evidence of the positive impacts of the comprehensive certification program offered by the Standards for Excellence Institute and its licensed partners. For more information on the research study, visit the Accreditation Page on the Standards for Excellence website at www.standardsforexcellenceinstitute.org.

Applying for accreditation is a cooperative, three-staged process between each organization and the Standards for Excellence Institute (or one of its licensed partners). The stages include a thorough review by Institute staff, a peer review by vetted volunteer third-party professionals, and final approval by a team of volunteer nonprofit experts who serve on the Institute’s Ethics Standards Committee. Applications are reviewed with consideration of each nonprofit’s individual mission, size and resources. Applicants are provided with custom recommendations at each stage of review that are intended to strengthen the organization’s impact and qualify them as a Standards for Excellence Seal holder. Organizations also have the option to be recognized for significant accomplishments through the Institute’s tiered recognition program.

Modernized Procedures to Earn the Seal of Excellence

In addition to the code enhancements, the Institute has developed an online application and review system. The system is designed to streamline procedures for nonprofits applying for accreditation, as well as staff and volunteers who conduct reviews. The online application has been available through the Institute’s website since April 1, 2014.

Why a Code of Excellence is Important

Nonprofit organizations, as tax-exempt entities that, in many cases, are reliant on the generosity and trust of others, face sharp scrutiny to operate effectively and ethically. This scrutiny is intensified in the midst of scandals that are circulated through the media and raise concerns about accountability within the nonprofit sector. The Standards for Excellence Institute works to assist organizations in exceeding the minimum legal requirements of local, state and federal regulations to ensure they are fulfilling their obligations to those they serve, to their supporters, and to the public.

About the Standards for Excellence Institute

The Standards for Excellence originated as a special initiative of Maryland Nonprofits in 1998 and has since expanded into a national program to help nonprofit organizations achieve the highest benchmarks of ethics and accountability in nonprofit governance, management and operations. The program has been formally adopted by twelve state, regional and national affiliate organizations, and is supported by 66 Licensed Consultants and over 100 volunteers with professional experience in nonprofit governance and administration. Since its inception, the program has accredited over 200 individual nonprofit organizations that completed a rigorous application and review process to demonstrate adherence to the Standards for Excellence: An Ethics and Accountability Code for the Nonprofit Sector.

In 2008, BoardSource named the Standards for Excellence code as “one of the most important milestones in the field of nonprofit governance in the last 20 years.” The Institute’s program has been cited as exemplary at hearings and roundtables before the US Senate Committee on Finance and the American Society of Association Executives.

If you would like to learn more about the enhancements to the Standards for Excellence program, the national taskforce, details about the accreditation process, or general information about the Institute, visit www.standardsforexcellenceinstitute.org or contact Amy Coates Madsen, Director of the Standards for Excellence Institute, at 443-438-2314 or acmadsen@standardsforexcellenceinstitute.org.

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