Nonprofit Blog - Standards for Excellence Institute
Promoting Excellence and Trust in the Nonprofit Sector
Find a Licensed Consultant    Find Accredited and Recognized Organization


Is every single thing in your organization held together by duct tape?

If you are like me, you probably have resolutions and goals for 2024. One of my resolutions is to intentionally take the time to fix bothersome things rather than just being annoyed by them over and over again. You probably also have items on your list that need attention. I discovered a type of glue that seems to fix everything; I used it several times in the last week to fix broken boot heels and watch bands. I am a bit nervous, however, and wonder if my glue repairs, however strong, may actually be temporary. Will the glue turn out to be like the proverbial duct tape, something that lasts for a little while but eventually wears out and leaves me searching for a more permanent solution?

In my work helping to strengthen nonprofits, I often find myself asking nonprofit leaders, Are you worried that every single thing in your organization is held together by duct tape? Have all of your “fixes” been developed in the midst of a crisis, and put in place quickly to bridge a big gap? Of course, we’d all rather be in a position to say everything is SOLID, thoughtfully planned out and just right for the requirements of our nonprofit. One way to wrap our arms around the needs of our organizations is to take the time to assess where we are at this moment so that we can make plans to ensure that we adequately address all the areas and practices that might create emergencies down the road.

Fortunately, the Standards for Excellence Institute offers a way for you to pause and assess where you are. You can take the free online Standards for Excellence self-assessment. By investing as little as thirty minutes, you can answer a series of questions about your nonprofits’ governance and management practices and be rewarded with an instant report outlining steps that you can take and resources you can use to put your organization in excellent shape. Taken together, this will help ensure that your nonprofit is in the best position to thrive and achieve your mission in the weeks, months, and years to come.

As much as I like my extra-sticky glue and multi-colored duct tape, I know, like you, that the best solutions are those that we embrace thoughtfully and intentionally. So, take some time to assess your needs, embrace solutions, and utilize the resources of the Standards for Excellence program to help your organization achieve its important mission and goals.

Share This Story, Choose Your Platform!

About the Author: Amy Coates Madsen

Amy Coates Madsen is the Director of the Standards for Excellence Institute, a national initiative to promote the highest standards of ethics and accountability in nonprofit governance, management, and operations, and to facilitate adherence to standards by all organizations. The Standards for Excellence Institute is a program of the Maryland Association of Nonprofit Organizations where Amy has served for more than twenty-two years. Amy is responsible for coordinating all aspects of the association’s comprehensive ethics and accountability program and efforts to replicate the program nationally. She serves as a frequent trainer and writer in the areas of board conduct, program evaluation, program replication, fundraising ethics, and nonprofit management. She has taught courses on nonprofit ethics and accountability at the Johns Hopkins Institute for Policy Studies Certificate Program on Nonprofit Management. She has held positions at the Trenton lobbying firm of the Princeton Public Affairs Group, and the Public Policy Liaison Unit at the world headquarters of Catholic Relief Services. Amy received her Master of Arts in Policy Studies degree from the Johns Hopkins University – Institute for Policy Studies in Baltimore, Maryland; and her Bachelors degree from the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in Blacksburg, Virginia. Amy is a member of Phi Beta Kappa. Amy serves on the Internal Revenue Service Advisory Committee on Tax Exempt and Government Entities (ACT). Amy is a former member of the Disaster Action Team of the Central Maryland Chapter of the American Red Cross and is qualified to provide disaster preparedness training to children and adults. She has also served as the former President of Central Maryland CAN TOO and was a member of the Board of Trustees of the largest United Methodist Church in Baltimore City. She serves on the board of her children’s preschool PTA and is a volunteer with the Girl Scouts of Central Maryland. Amy is currently leading an effort to establish an endowment for the Virginia Tech University Honors Program.