Evolution of Best Practices

By:  Deb NelsonDebNelson

Independent Sector recently updated their 33 Principles for Good Governance and Ethical Practices. As I reviewed the summary, I wondered how nonprofit organizations choose which set of “principles” they adopt. There are many organizations, nationwide and locally, that have disseminated information on what they believe to be principles of best practice or ethical standards for nonprofits. These generally include categories covering financial aspects, governance, fundraising and transparency.

Does your nonprofit follow principles recommended from a local state association? Do you go through a rigorous review by one of the dozen evaluators to obtain a seal of approval? Or have you developed your own guidelines based on a combination of sources?

At the end of the day, the over-riding purpose of principals is to ensure nonprofits are effective, successful, and responsible. As your nonprofit evolves, are you remembering to circle back to your adopted principles for a “check-up” and investigate areas that need tweaking? For example, if you have started a capital campaign have you reviewed those fundraising principles that may not have applied to you in the past? If you’ve moved to cloud-based technology, are you following best practices for data protection?


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