Principles & Practices for Nonprofit Excellence

What are the Principles & Practices for Nonprofit Excellence?

In 1994, the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits (MCN) became the first state association of nonprofits to develop a set of accountability principles and management practices. This revised edition completely updates those original standards while remaining true to MCN’s longstanding goal of open access to our comprehensive policies for strong public accountability.

The Principles and Practices for Nonprofit Excellence are based on the fundamental values of quality, responsibility, and accountability. The 11 accountability principles distinguish the nonprofit sector from government and the business sector. The 192 management practices provide specific guidelines for individual organizations to evaluate and improve their operations, governance, human resources, advocacy, financial management, and fundraising.

The Principles and Practices for Nonprofit Excellence are meant to educate nonprofit leaders, board members, managers, volunteers, and staff about the fundamental roles and responsibilities of nonprofit organizations. MCN expects that the Principles and Practices will be useful to virtually every nonprofit organization as they form a set of reference tools that can be adapted to meet particular needs and circumstances. 

In 2013, MCN gathered a new group of nonprofit leaders through the Principles and Practices Advisory Committee to review necessary changes. James V. Toscano returned as a co-chair of the committee joined by Rinal Ray and Armando Camacho, with Laura Johansson as facilitator. This revised edition was developed by a 37-member committee representing the diversity of Minnesota's nonprofit community. 

Note to Readers

Please be aware that certain words have particular meanings in this document.
  • "Must" is used to describe practices required by stake or federal law, and is noted with a gavel symbol; the online version of the Principles and Practices will soon include direct web links to relevant federal and state statutes and reporting forms.  Gavel
  • "Should" is used to describe highly recommended practices.
  • "Constituents" describes people with a stake in the success of the organization and may include members, neighbors, clients, volunteers, and contributors.

Advice for Users

The Minnesota Council of Nonprofits is sensitive to the large amount of sometimes contradictory advice directed at nonprofits. MCN expects that the Principles and Practices will be useful to virtually every nonprofit organization as they form a set of reference tools that can be adapted to meet particular needs and circumstances.

To be sure that your organization is using this resource to its best effect, please read our advice for how to best use the Principles & Practices for Nonprofit Excellence.

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