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If only I knew then what I know now.

The Standards for Excellence Institute®

by Tony Ferlenda, Director of Consulting

Before becoming a Consultant, I spent much of my career in nonprofit leadership roles. Many of you reading this will agree, nothing is more satisfying and challenging than overseeing a nonprofit organization. The satisfaction came from having a positive impact on the lives of individuals, families, and communities.  The challenges? There were so many; fundraising, working with volunteers, managing staff, board development, program evaluation, strategic planning, financial management, advocacy, legal compliance, administrative policies…I could go on.  I didn’t know what I didn’t know. The learning curve was steep and long.

Today, as DANA’s Director of Consulting, I am happy to support nonprofit leaders so that they don’t have to experience the frustration of that steep, long learning curve. I now have my experience to share, but I also have the tremendous resources of DANA at my disposal. One of those resources is our partnership with the Standards for Excellence Institute®. The Institute is a national initiative established to promote the “highest standards of nonprofit ethics, effectiveness, and accountability.” The centerpiece of the Institute’s program is the Standards for Excellence® Code. It identifies six major areas of nonprofit governance and management which include specific benchmarks and best practices that provide a structured approach to building capacity, accountability, and sustainability. Those 6 major areas are broken down into 27 different educational packets.  It’s a wonderful resource and a goldmine of information for any nonprofit leader…paid or volunteer. When working with our members on customized consulting engagements, I am always referring to the packets. As a DANA member, you have access to the educational packets.  We can send you 3 per year at no charge. In the first three months of this year, we’ve already sent out more than 70 packets to our members.

The Standards for Excellence Institute® also offers three levels of Recognition and Accreditation to nonprofits that validate they adhere to the Standards for Excellence® Code. The top level, The Seal of Excellence, will demonstrate to your stakeholders that your organization is a top performer, and they can have confidence the quality of your programs, your transparency and accountability, and your commitment to best practices. DANA has had The Seal for many years. In addition, National nonprofit directories such as Guidestar will feature the accreditation on your organization’s profile page. To learn more about Recognition and Accreditation, click here. If you’re interested and need guidance, send me a note at [email protected]

As a Standards for Excellence® Licensed Consultant, I often speak with our members about the Standards and find myself thinking, “If I only knew then what I know now, I could have saved myself so much time and frustration.”