Nonprofits can prove publicly their commitment to the Standards by becoming accredited (earn the “Seal of Excellence”) or recognized (as having achieved the “Standards basics” or “Standards basics enhanced”).
Being accredited by the Standards for Excellence Institute demonstrates that a nonprofit has met the rigorous requirements that are included in the standards. Being an accredited nonprofit sets the organization apart as a top performer in the nonprofit field and lets all its stakeholders (funders, community members, board, staff, volunteers) know that they can have confidence in the quality of its programs, its accountability and openness, and its commitment to best practices.
The three levels of recognition include:
- Standards Basics recognition (requires strong policies in place for good governance and legal compliance, and calls for a well-defined mission with impactful programs)
- Standards Basics Enhanced recognition (requires all the Basics requirements, plus the nonprofit must be inclusive of the community served, must hold strategic and effective board meetings, and must have programs that are attentive to strategic issues and trends in the community)
- Accreditation (Seal of Excellence) (requires all the Basics and Basics Enhanced requirements, plus the nonprofit must create long-range strategic and sustainability plans, build strong board performance, and outline steps to strengthen justice, diversity, equity, and inclusion. Accreditation requires meeting all the requirements in the Standards for Excellence code.)
Nonprofits of all sizes and service areas can find a level that fits their needs.
Accreditation and recognition require submitting a detailed application that will receive a peer review and also be evaluated by Standards of Excellence professionals with expertise in nonprofit management and accountability. There is an application fee and a licensing fee, which are based on a variety of factors including size of the nonprofit’s budget.
More information: Application Process Overview
A good first step towards accreditation: the free online self-assessment