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Standards for Excellence

The Center for Nonprofit Excellence (CNE) is proud to introduce a new program to the Pikes Peak region focusing on best practices for nonprofits: the Standards for Excellence.  CNE would also like to introduce and welcome our partners in this endeavor, the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. Pikes Peak United Way, Inasmuch Foundation, Gay & Lesbian Fund for Colorado, Community Leadership Fund, BKD LLP, and the Standards for Excellence Institute.  CNE is excited to sponsor this nationally recognized program and are pleased to be the first in Colorado to implement important guiding principles for nonprofit organizations. 

CNE would like to provide a brief history of how we selected this nationally recognized Standards for Excellence program.  During her tenure as Executive Director of the Chamber Nonprofit Partnership (now the Center for Nonprofit Excellence), Cathy Robbins began researching standards programs for nonprofits.  She saw the need for guidance in the form of best practices and guidelines and determined that CNE was the right organization to bring the project to the Pikes Peak region.  Her departure in 2003 and subsequent management change resulted in a delay of the project until 2006.

In 2006, CNE undertook to finish the research required to implement a standards program.  In addition to reviewing numerous standards and principles established by state and prominent national organizations, CNE conducted several conversations with state organizations that had implemented the Standards for Excellence program.  After serious consideration of many options, CNE believes that this well-tested and successful program is the best choice for our community.

In 1998, the Maryland Association of Nonprofit Organizations (Maryland Nonprofits) launched the Standards for Excellence program.  Maryland Nonprofits has achieved national recognition for the Standards for Excellence Institute and has distributed the Standards and related materials nationwide.  In 2001, a pilot program was launched to replicate the Standards for Excellence in five state associations of nonprofits.  The state associations of nonprofits in Louisiana, Georgia, Ohio, and Pennsylvania became the first Standards for Excellence replication partners.  The Idaho Nonprofit Development Center became a replication partner in the spring of 2005, and in 2006, the Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits and the Community Development Partnership of West Virginia became replication partners.  As interest in the Standards for Excellence program rapidly developed, Maryland Nonprofits launched the Standards for Excellence Institute to lead the nationwide replication process. 

The nonprofit sector is receiving greater scrutiny from the government and the public.  The US Senate Finance Committee has been discussing the balance between self-regulation and government legislation as it relates to charities.  Furthermore, the IRS has drafted a revised Form 990 which requires more disclosure from nonprofit organizations.  Websites like and have become popular with the public because it allows them to research public information about charities. 

Pursuant to a direct request from Congress, the Independent Sector convened the Panel on the Nonprofit Sector -- a group of independent nonprofit leaders -- to recommend ways to strengthen governance and other practices in charitable organizations.  They issued a final report in June 2005.  Click here for the full report. The report explains that most charitable organizations are willing to adopt commonly accepted standards of practice.

With nonprofits under closer scrutiny, itís more important than ever to show the public, government and media that as a nonprofit, youíre doing the right thing.  Now is the time for the nonprofit sector to speak out about best practices for the operation of nonprofits.  By participating in the Standards for Excellence program, youíll be on the ground floor of the movement for ethics and responsibility in nonprofits.  Most importantly, youíll prove that you care enough to go the extra mile in support of your commitment to excellence. 

The success of nonprofit organizations depends on public confidence and broad public support.  Our Standards for Excellence not only provide a strong foundation from which to develop and carry on a nonprofit organization, but clearly provide a framework within which to sustain an organization, provide training for staff development, and promote public confidence.  Our Standards for Excellence will serve as a model for nonprofit organizations to implement in their operations and governance.

The national Standards for Excellence Institute developed a robust program for replicating their guiding principles, which can be considered an ethics and accountability code for the nonprofit sector.  CNE will be introducing training clinics and an introduction to the Standards for Excellence to address the guiding principles of the Standards.  These trainings will be held in addition to the current CNE workshops provided. 

If you have any questions, please email [email protected] or call 719-575-4341.

CNE is on the cutting edge of providing standards and guiding principles for nonprofit organizations in the Pikes Peak region, and look forward to the continued support of our nonprofit partners.    

Click here to read The Gazette article about the Standards published on July 6, 2007.



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Last modified: 08/25/08