Principles and Practices for Nonprofit Excellence

Principles and Practices for Nonprofit Excellence
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The Principles and Practices for Nonprofit Excellence are based on the fundamental values of quality, responsibility and accountability. The ten characteristic accountability principles distinguish the nonprofit sector from government and the business sector. The 133 management practices provide specific guidelines for individual organizations to evaluate and improve their operations, governance, human resources, advocacy, financial management and fundraising.

Read the all the Principles and Practices by continuing to the following pages, download the PDF, or order a printed booklet.

Role in Society

Nonprofits are obligated to understand their role as entities that engage and inspire individuals and communities for public benefit, and to conduct their activities with transparency, integrity and accountability.


A nonprofit’s board of directors is responsible for defining the organization’s mission and for providing overall leadership and strategic direction to the organization.


Nonprofits have a duty to engage in sound planning, define a clear vision for the future, and specify strategies, goals and objectives for plan implementation.

Transparency and Accountability

Nonprofits should regularly and openly convey information to the public about their mission, activities, accomplishments and decision-making processes. Information from a nonprofit organization should be easily accessible to the public and should create external visibility, public understanding and trust in the organization.


Nonprofits should adopt clear policies for fundraising activities to ensure responsible use of funds and open, transparent communication with contributors and other constituents.

Financial Management

Nonprofits must comply with all legal financial requirements and should adhere to sound accounting principles that produce reliable financial information, ensure fiscal responsibility and build public trust.

Human Resources

Nonprofit organizations should place a high priority on exercising fair and equitable practices that attract and retain qualified volunteers and employees. Nonprofits have an obligation to adhere to all applicable employment laws and to provide a safe and productive work environment.

Civic Engagement and Public Policy

To the extent possible, nonprofit organizations should engage constituents in public policy and advocacy activities as a means to fulfilling their missions and promoting community interests.

Strategic Alliances

Nonprofits should initiate and promote cooperation and coordination between a variety of entities to avoid unnecessary duplication of services and to maximize the resources available to the communities they serve.


Nonprofits should regularly measure their performance against a clear set of goals and objectives. They should share this information with their constituents and the public and use it to continually improve the quality of their processes, programs and activities.

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