By Amy Coates Madsen, Director, Standards for Excellence Institute®, Maryland Nonprofits
All around the Free State, more and more grantmakers are utilizing the Standards for Excellence program. The Standards for Excellence program helps nonprofits live by the Standards for Excellence: An Ethics and Accountability Code for the Nonprofit Sector, a set of 67 standards for good nonprofit governance and management. The Standards for Excellence Institute, a project of Maryland Nonprofits, offers a host of high-quality educational materials and training programs to help nonprofits achieve and embrace these leading standards. Organizations demonstrate to funders (and everyone else!) that they operate in a way consistent with these high standards by participating in the Institute’s accreditation and recognition programs. Nonprofits that earn the Seal of Excellence can display it prominently and it also becomes part of their GuideStar profiles.
In Annapolis, the Community Foundation of Anne Arundel County has added a question about Standards for Excellence achievement to its grant applications. Melissa Curtin, Executive Director, stated, " Our confidence in an organization's focus on efficiency, effectiveness, integrity and transparency is increased significantly when an organization has earned the Seal."
Prince George’s County Department of Social Services (PGDSS) is awarding extra points to organizations that receive the Standards. Additionally, the Prince George’s County Department of Housing and Community Development requests the list of Standards for Excellence accredited and recognized groups when they are undertaking their grants review process.
The Horizon Foundation, based in Columbia, Maryland, has eligibility criteria for its Level III funding opportunities that require either Maryland Nonprofits Standards for Excellence, BBB Standards of Accountability (or a similar industry specific standard) by the time of the grant award.
Kaiser Permanente of the Mid-Atlantic States is sponsoring a cohort of organizations in Baltimore to strengthen their governance and management capacity and earn the Seal of Excellence, combined with leadership development and peer learning. T. Rowe Price Foundation is also sponsoring a cohort of organizations West Baltimore to strengthen their capacity, in part, utilizing the Standards for Excellence.
The Standards for Excellence program is now offered under license by regional, statewide and national partners all around the country.
The Community Foundation of Northeast Alabama (CFNEA) offers training and coaching for organizations interested in being accredited by the Standards for Excellence Institute®, and sets aside additional funding available exclusively for Standards accredited organizations.
“It is imperative that not-for-profits of all sizes be effective, efficient, credible and transparent as they strive to meet critical community needs,” says Jennifer S. Maddox, President and CEO of the Community Foundation of Northeast Alabama. “We believe not-for-profit organizations are our partners in achieving the mission of the Community Foundation of Northeast Alabama. The Standards for Excellence® accreditation gives us confidence in the grants we make.”
Other examples of foundations moving in this direction are plentiful.
• Seven foundations in Pennsylvania (where the Standards for Excellence program is offered by the Pennsylvania Association of Nonprofit Organizations) encourage their grantees and other nonprofits to participate in the Standards for Excellence training and accreditation process (Phoenixville Community Health Foundation; Westmoreland County Community Foundation; Grable Foundation; Philadelphia Foundation; Montgomery County Foundation; Adams County Community Foundation; and the HBE Foundation.)
• Eleven foundations in Ohio (where the Standards for Excellence program is offered by the Ohio Association of Nonprofit Organizations) do the same (Richland County Foundation; Licking County Foundation; Dayton Community Foundation; the Cleveland Foundation; the Columbus Foundation; Toledo Foundation; Greater Cincinnati Foundation; Findlay-Hancock Foundation; Gund Foundation; Gar Foundation; and the Mathile Family Foundation).
• In Oklahoma, numerous foundations ask whether potential grantees have completed Standards for Excellence comprehensive training programs, which are offered through Standards for Excellence replication partner, the Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits.
Funders in Maryland can utilize the Standards for Excellence as a due diligence tool and as a resource for their grantees – and for nonprofits they aren’t able to support. To learn more about how your foundation or governmental agency can benefit from the Standards for Excellence program, contact Amy Coates Madsen at email@example.com.
Based on a blog originally published by the Peak Grantmaking (formerly Grants Managers Network), February 2017.
Top Five Ways Funders are Using Standards for Excellence in Grant Making
1. Providing support to nonprofits interested in Standards for Excellence training or accreditation.
2. Asking if an organization has earned the Seal of Excellence as part of the proposal or grant application process.
3. Awarding extra points or extra credit in the review process for organizations that have earned the Seal of Excellence.
4. Sponsoring cohorts of grantees to get consulting support to meet the Standards.
5. Referring nonprofits to the Standards resources such as the self-assessment, financial policies, or board composition analysis.