If your nonprofit is interested in best practices, one of the first places to turn is the Standards for Excellence Institute. As Director of the Standards for Excellence Institute, Amy Coates Madsen is responsible for coordinating all aspects of the Standards for Excellence and efforts to replicate the standards around the nation. In this podcast, Amy talks about what the Standards are and how a nonprofit can implement them. Amy received her Masters of Arts in Policy Studies from Johns Hopkins Institute for Policy Studies in Baltimore and her Bachelor’s degree from Virginia Tech.

Maryland Nonprofits’ Standards for Excellence website can be found here. The Standards for Excellence are set out on that website. You can find a list of licensed nonprofit consultants here. You can call the Standards for Excellence at 410-727-1726.



Background About the Standards

What are the Standards for Excellence all about? [1:13]

How do the Standards for Excellence help build and maintain trust?  [2:37]

How does this relate to stewardship? [3:17]

How did the Standards for Excellence come into being? [4:17]

How many states have adopted the Standards? [5:48]

I understand that you certify consultants who can help organizations adopt the Standards. How many consultants have been certified around the United States? How would a nonprofit find a certified consultant? [7:20]

Basics of Implementing the Standards

What are the major elements of the Standards for Excellence? [8:45]

If an organization wanted to begin conforming its operations to the Standards, is there an area they should focus on first, and then second, and so forth? [9:38]

In your experience, Amy, which Standards cause the most trouble for nonprofits? [11:21]

I understand that you have support material that can be shared with organizations that are adopting the Standards. How would a nonprofit get access to that material? [12:50]

Special Strategies and Potential Challenges

If adopting best practices requires internal champions, who does that mean within the organization? Is this a board-driven process, a senior-executive level process, or a grassroots process? [14:57]

What advice can you give nonprofits to avoid getting distracted as they attempt to adopt the Standards or some other form of best practices? [16:40]

Nonprofits are notoriously unwilling to spend on infrastructure. What you say to nonprofits when they contend that spending to adopt best practices interferes with their ability to provide current services to needy clients? [18:07]

Would you give us a couple of examples of success stories – small or large nonprofits who have adopted the Standards and felt that they really benefited from the process? [19:50]

In your experience, how long does it take for a nonprofit to work through the process of adopting the Standards of Excellence? [22:42]

If you had to give three pieces of advice to a nonprofit that was considering putting itself through the rigor of conforming to best practices, what would you say? [24:08]