On an organization’s GuideStar Nonprofit Profile, visitors can view Third Party Ratings, Accreditations, and Awards. Here, potential donors, volunteers, and others interested in nonprofit performance can learn if an organization has received recognition other than the GuideStar Bronze, Silver, Gold, or Platinum Seals of Transparency. The Standards for Excellence Institute, a national accreditation that supports organizations in implementing nonprofit best standards, is one of the accreditations listed. Established in 1998 by Maryland Nonprofits, Standards for Excellence accreditation is available to any 501(c)(3), 501(c)(4), or 501(c)(6) nonprofit that undergoes an independent third-party review of its policies, procedures, and practices.
With the Standards for Excellence accreditation and GuideStar Platinum, GuideStar’s highest Seal of Transparency, an organization can show its commitment to the public while demonstrating its dedication to best practices and excellence. Two organizations that have taken these measures are Center for Independent Living of Central Pennsylvania (CILCP) and Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits.
CILCP’s mission is to eliminate barriers that people with disabilities experience. By providing ongoing advocacy and offering innovative programs and services, CILCP empowers individuals with disabilities to exercise their right to participate fully in society.
In addition to being the only Pennsylvania Center for Independent Living to achieve Standards for Excellence, CILCP was the 44th nonprofit in the state to gain Standards of Excellence recognition.
“It was quite an accomplishment for the organization to receive the accreditation,” Janetta Green, CILCP’s chief operating officer, told GuideStar. “It gave confidence and pride to the administration, board, and staff. It was a level we had never reached before.”
Green says the two seals have given the organization credibility in requesting funding and donations. She recommends both the Standards of Excellence and GuideStar Platinum processes to organizations that want to grow and develop administratively and are willing to put in a considerable amount of effort.
“It is hard work and not for ‘sissies!’ The Standards for Excellence and GuideStar keep us focused and current on running an open, efficient, mission-directed organization,” Green said.
[Screenshot of GuideStar profile showing seals] side by side
The Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits aims to build better communities through effective nonprofits. By offering a wide range of resources, programs, and training, the organization works to maximize a nonprofit’s impact in its community. Because of its programs, communities across the entire state of Oklahoma are impacted directly by the organizations that utilize the Oklahoma Center’s resources.
Janetta Cravens, vice president of programs, said that Standards for Excellence accreditation and GuideStar Platinum complement each other in portraying the organization’s dedication to its mission.
“The seals overlap in their intention to demonstrate a nonprofit’s commitment to distinction of management and operations, while also being devoted to a reliable, trustworthy relationship with the public,” Cravens explained.
Cravens emphasized that, as recipients of public funds, a nonprofit organization must do everything it can to show the best use of those funds and showcase its overall effectiveness in achieving its mission.
“Now that the Standards for Excellence seal appears on an organization’s GuideStar profile, achieving it and GuideStar Platinum shows that an organization is committed to being a well-run, highly functional organization, as well as a commitment to transparency with the public,” Cravens said. “We encourage organizations to seek both seals to enhance reputation with donors, stakeholders, policy makers, consumers, and the public.”
As we know, trust is vital to nonprofits that depend on donations or public funds. Both the Standards for Excellence accreditation and GuideStar Platinum demonstrate a nonprofit’s dedication to transparency and best practices. Acquiring these recognitions will benefit your organization’s internal practices as well as publicly demonstrate your commitment to excellence.
The preceding post is by Abbie Wade, a communications coordinator for GuideStar. She is currently a rising senior at The George Washington University, studying Journalism & Mass Communication and Political Science.