Practices Assessment

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Communication

General

No/Not Begun In Process Yes/ Complete Not Applicable Not Sure
We meet all federal requirements for public disclosure. US
Our organizational communications adhere to the highest ethical and professional standards, as well as any industry specific standards that may exist, including principles of transparency, fairness and honesty.
Our communication standards are clearly stated in writing and are part of the orientation of all employees, volunteers and board members.
We have a clearly defined, written communication plan that guides both internal and external communications and supports our comprehensive organizational plan. The communication plan is directly related to the strategic plan and demonstrates accountability to constituents and the public.
Our communication plan includes goals, target audiences, key messages, strategies, tools, intended outcomes and the means to evaluate results.
Our communication plan ensures that we are making the appropriate information available to the public and communicating in a clear and timely manner with those who request information.
We copyright or trademark organizational materials as appropriate.
We have a system in place for promptly and respectfully responding to grievances or complaints from both internal and external sources.
Our communications are clear, easily accessed and kept up to date.
We openly communicate with other nonprofit organizations to share lessons learned and best practices.

Internal Communications

No/Not Begun In Process Yes/ Complete Not Applicable Not Sure
Our internal communications are guided by clear policies and practices.
Management actively solicits, carefully listens, and respectfully responds to the views of internal constituents.
Our internal communication welcomes alternative perspectives and encourages participation at all levels in order to minimize defensiveness and build and maintain camaraderie.
We exchange information via regularly scheduled and attended meetings, regularly printed and/or e-mailed informational updates, and reports on meetings of the board of directors and its committees.
We have an understood forum for suggestions.
The line of communication between staff and the board of directors is clearly defined and well understood.


External Communications

No/Not Begun In Process Yes/ Complete Not Applicable Not Sure
Our constituents are provided with ongoing opportunities to interact with the board and management regarding the organization’s activities.
We ensure that information provided to policy makers, the media and the public is timely and accurate, and that the social and political context of information is clear to avoid misunderstanding or manipulation of the message.
We have a media relations strategy that includes frequently updating all major press, television, radio and internet news sources, builds relationships with individuals in the local media, and coordinates messaging across media.
We have written policies and procedures for developing public statements and positions on issues, and all internal constituents are aware of and trained on these statements, positions, and policies and procedures.
We have one or more spokespersons that are authorized to make public statements on behalf of the organization and all internal constituents are aware of these spokespersons.
We ensure that board and staff distinguish between personal opinion and organizational positions.
In serving the public trust, we produce an annual report that contains information regarding activities and performance, including:
  1. an explanation of the organization’s mission, activities, results
  2. an explanation of how individuals can access programs/services
  3. financial information, including income and expense statements, balance sheet and functional expense allocations
  4. a list of board members, management staff, partners/supports and donors
We have a graphics standards policy that governs the fonts, colors, logo and other such details used in all external communications, and this is employed consistently.


Evaluation

Methodology & Measurement

No/Not Begun In Process Yes/ Complete Not Applicable Not Sure
We have defined, ongoing and sustainable procedures in place for evaluating our programs, procedures, and outcomes in relation to our mission.
Our evaluation strategy is ongoing and includes input from a wide variety of stakeholders including staff, board, funders, community members, etc.
Performance measures are realistic, specific, measurable and appropriate to the size and scope of the organization and its constituents. Measurement includes information on satisfaction, activities, results, and community input; both qualitative and quantitative data; and data on efficiency and effectiveness.
We employ appropriate data collection and analysis tools in order to produce accurate, timely, and useful evaluation information.
We conduct evaluations in ways that are culturally sensitive and appropriate to the communities we serve.
Information that is collected from persons served is kept confidential, and we never identify specific persons served unless we have their written permission.
We have a thorough understanding of the community in which we operate, including the needs of constituents, services provided by the government and other nonprofits, and applicable trends (i.e., economic, demographic, etc.).
We regularly monitor the needs and satisfaction of stakeholders and provide a grievance procedure to address complaints.
We utilize external evaluators when appropriate and feasible. These evaluators follow the Guiding Principles for Evaluators set forth by the American Evaluation Association.
We have a written memo of agreement/contract with every external evaluator and/or consultant.

Use of Evaluation Results

No/Not Begun In Process Yes/ Complete Not Applicable Not Sure
Evaluation results are communicated to a broad range of constituents including staff, board, constituents, funders, and community members.
Measurement informs the operational plan and is used to evaluate organizational effectiveness.
Evaluation results are used to strengthen and improve our programs and activities by incorporating evaluation findings into strategic planning processes.
Our programs take into account and respond to the experience, needs, and satisfaction of the constituents they serve.
We train our personnel in evaluation methods to improve their understanding and utilization of data developed from evaluation activities.
We actively assess the usefulness and accuracy of our evaluation practices and modify them as needed.
We share relevant lessons learned with other nonprofits and funding sources.


Financial Management

Reporting & Oversight

No/Not Begun In Process Yes/ Complete Not Applicable Not Sure
We comply with all financial reporting and tax laws, including withholding and payment of federal and state income taxes, Social Security payroll taxes and unrelated business tax reporting (if applicable). US
We clearly and appropriately categorize our donated funds as unrestricted, temporarily restricted or permanently restricted in our financial statements and communications in accordance with the donor or grantor wishes/stipulations. US
We have an annual audit, financial review, or compilation. (Audit required if spent over $500,000 of federal money/grants) US
Our annual tax returns and tax exemption documents are available to the public. US
We qualify as a public charity either under the “public support test” or the “facts and circumstances test” or by qualifying as a supporting organization to another public charity. US
We file our biennial report with the Secretary of State on time. NE, IA
We keep complete, current and accurate financial records with supporting documentation in a manner that complies with standard accounting practices from FASB or GASB.
We generate accurate, relevant and consistent financial reports which include the comparison of actual to budgeted revenue and expenses, and which identify and explain any significant variances.
Board members understand how to read and interpret financial statements and the audit or financial review reports.
We provide training to all board members on how to read and understand nonprofit financial statements, including an audit or financial review report.
The board reviews financial reports at least quarterly.
The board reviews and approves the organization’s budget annually.
Financial audits are approved by the board and certified by the Executive Director and CFO.
We have an audit committee of the board that does not share members with, and works independently of, the finance committee.
In the audit process, the auditor is given the opportunity to meet with the board separately from management and staff.

Policies & Plans

No/Not Begun In Process Yes/ Complete Not Applicable Not Sure
We have a policy in accordance with federal law to handle, store and destroy financial records and supporting documentation. US
We have a whistle-blower protection policy in place that allows individuals to report financial misconduct without consequence for doing so. US
We do not allow personal use of organizational funds or business credit cards. US
We have a board-approved lobbying expense policy and follow all procedures and filings required by law (if applicable). US, NE, IA
Financial loans to staff or board members are strictly prohibited. NE, IA
We have a board-approved financial management policy that is periodically reviewed and updated.
We have a board-approved risk management plan that is periodically reviewed and updated.
We have a board-approved investment plan that is in accordance with all legal requirements and is periodically reviewed and updated.
We have a board-approved credit card policy for the organization.
We have a clear expense reimbursement policy for the organization.
We have contract management policies & procedures appropriate for the size and activities of our organization (if applicable).
We have a clear procurement and purchasing policy, including signature authority, for the organization.
We ensure separation of specific financial duties as a system of checks and balances to the extent possible given the size of our organization.
We have appropriate internal controls and procedures to monitor and record assets received, held and expended.
Our annual budget devotes a significant portion of resources to programs that pursue our mission. It also provides sufficient resources for effective administration and for fundraising activities (if applicable).
The board considers applicable industry benchmarks for expenditures on programs, administration and fundraising.
We plan for a balanced budget. If a budget deficit occurs, the board is informed in a timely manner and participates fully in determining a plan to restore the budget to a balanced state.
We maintain a financial reserve equal to three to six months of operating expenses.
We project, monitor and adjust cash flow as needed to ensure appropriate cash flow.
The funds we raise are used solely for the benefit of the organization.
We expend funds responsibly and ensure that funds are used according to funders’ wishes and requirements.
We do not consider bequests, planned gifts and pledges when determining the annual budget and do not include these dollars in budgeting for program expenditures until the gift is actualized.
We work towards diversifying our funding sources as much as possible in an effort to strengthen the organization’s sustainability and to lessen the impact of a potential loss of a significant amount of funding from any one source.
When undertaking responsibility of fiscal sponsorship for another organization, we do so only with board approval and full knowledge of its legal obligations and liabilities.


Fundraising

Ethics, Responsibilities & Policies

No/Not Begun In Process Yes/ Complete Not Applicable Not Sure
We comply with all federal, state and local laws and regulations concerning fundraising practices. US, NE, IA
We have secured the appropriate liquor and gaming licenses from the state (if applicable). NE, IA
We register our professional commercial fundraisers with the Iowa Attorney General, obtain a permit and update it as required. IA
We are prepared to provide financial disclosure information to any person requesting it, for all fundraising done in Iowa. IA
Our board and Executive Director are familiar with the Association of Fundraising Professionals’ Code of Ethical Principles and Standards of Professional Practice, and ensure that all fundraising professionals acting on behalf of the organization adhere to these.
We comply with all Do-Not-Contact list laws.
We pursue and accept only the funds that are in alignment with our mission; that will not bring about adverse conditions for our constituents; and that we need to reasonably work toward achieving the mission over the foreseeable future.
The board assumes overall responsibility for raising sufficient funds to meet our budgeted objectives. This includes 100% of board members financially supporting the organization in accordance with a written board giving policy, and board members raising funds from external sources.
We have a board-approved fund development plan that strives to raise funds efficiently so that a significant percentage of funding can be applied to programs/services.
We work towards diversifying our funding sources as much as possible in an effort to strengthen the organization’s sustainability and to lessen the impact of a potential loss of a significant amount of funding from any one source.
Fundraising communications include clear, accurate, honest information about the organization, its activities and the intended use of funds.
Compensation for fundraising personnel and consultants is not based on a percentage of funds or on other commission based formulas.
We have written contracts with fundraising consultants that cover compensation; responsibilities; acknowledgment of applicable fundraising laws, disclosure requirements and proper fund handling; and appropriate fundraising behavior and techniques.
We are familiar with the legal distinctions between staff, consultants, and contract employees, and ensure that we have the ability to adequately manage and supervise fundraising activity conducted by contractual providers.
We have a grants management system (if applicable) in place to enhance efficiency and transparency, and to ensure proper and timely reporting.
We have a fundraising budget and system to track expenditures.

Accountability to Donors

No/Not Begun In Process Yes/ Complete Not Applicable Not Sure
We provide appropriate acknowledgement and receipts to donors, in accordance with IRS code. US
We clearly and appropriately categorize our donated funds as unrestricted, temporarily restricted or permanently restricted in our financial statements and communications in accordance with the donor or grantor wishes/stipulations. US
We conduct our fundraising activities in a manner that upholds the public trust in stewardship of contributed funds.
We use funds according to donor intent and comply with specific conditions for donations.
We publicly recognize charitable contributions as appropriate and maintain donor confidentiality as requested. We never trade or share donor names with others unless given express permission by the donor.
We have policies in place regarding the receipt, disposal and management of charitable gifts and grants.
We regularly communicate with donors about our activities and make information available through multiple outlets.


Governance

Board Composition & Roles

No/Not Begun In Process Yes/ Complete Not Applicable Not Sure
We have the required number of board members (3 in NE, 1 in IA). NE, IA
We have all required officers (president, secretary, treasurer, or as indicated in bylaws). NE, IA
At least two-thirds of the board is independent, as defined by the IRS. US

A trustee is not an “independent trustee” if, at any time during the fiscal year, the trustee: (a) received compensation as an officer or employee from the corporation or a related organization; (b) received compen¬sation or other payments as an independent contractor of $10,000 or more not including expense reimbursement or payment for services as a director; or (c) became involved or had a family member who became involved in a “reportable transaction” with the corporation, whether directly or indirectly through affiliation with another organization.

Generally speaking, reportable transactions include:

  1. loans or grants to the director (or the director’s family members or entities in which the director or family members have an ownership interest, collectively “related persons”);
  2. compensation to a family member of $10,000 or more; or
  3. a business transaction with the director or related persons that exceeds the greater of $10,000 or 1 percent of the organization’s annual revenues, or multiple transactions that exceed in the aggregate $100,000 during the fiscal year.

Comply with the IRS definition of independence when filing the Form 990, but remember that independence means more—it takes into account financial and non-financial relationships that could lead a reasonable person to question an individual’s objectivity and loyalty to the organization.

The gold standard for independence should be that the board is beyond reproach, in fact and appearance.

The board has no more than one employee (typically the chief executive) serving on the board, and he/she does not serve as the chair, vice-chair, secretary or treasurer.
We have an established process to recruit and select new board members that ensures board members represent the best interests of the organization, the infusion of new ideas and community perspectives, and the preservation of institutional memory via staggered terms and term limits.
The board includes members with the diverse skills, expertise and experience necessary to fulfill all needed board roles, including at least one person with financial expertise.
We strive to have board representation that reflects the diversity of our community and constituency.
The board is comprised of individuals who represent the best interests of the organization.
Board members are provided with clear job descriptions and understand their roles and responsibilities.
Committee members are provided with clear job descriptions and understand their roles and responsibilities.

Governance Documents

No/Not Begun In Process Yes/ Complete Not Applicable Not Sure
We have our IRS determination letter. US
We have up-to-date articles of incorporation. NE, IA
We have an up-to-date registered agent and registered office filing with the Secretary of State. NE, IA
We file a biennial report with the Secretary of State. NE, IA
We have up-to-date bylaws which include board liability & indemnification language.
We have a code of ethics and conduct for the board.
We have an up-to-date board member policies and procedures handbook.
We have an up-to-date committee handbook with each committee’s charter (or other clear statement of authority and purpose), policies and procedures.
We carry the appropriate level of liability insurance, including Director & Officer insurance.

Board Policies & Procedures

No/Not Begun In Process Yes/ Complete Not Applicable Not Sure
We have an up-to-date conflict of interest policy and signed disclosure forms for the board, staff, and volunteers. US
We held an organizational meeting after incorporation to elect directors (if not named in the articles of incorporation), appoint officers and adopt bylaws. NE, IA
We have a clear policy on board member term limits, rotation (term staggering), number of consecutive terms, and removal written in our bylaws, and we abide by these.
Board meetings are held at least quarterly, and regular attendance is required.
We have a board attendance policy and abide by it.
The board follows the voting procedures as defined in the bylaws.
Board members are provided with an orientation and board manual.
We have an up-to-date board calendar with meetings and organizational events.
We educate the board and staff about what constitutes conflict of interest.
We regularly and consistently monitor and enforce the conflict of interest policy.
All board members receive relevant financial literacy, legal, lobbying and advocacy training as needed.
We have a process for educating board members to ensure they can carry out their oversight, fundraising and independence responsibilities.
We keep as permanent records minutes of all board meetings and documentation of any actions taken by the board without a meeting.
We keep as permanent records all financial information for the organization.
We strictly prohibit financial loans to members of the board or to personnel.
We abide by state law if/when the board takes action without a meeting. NE, 21-1981, IA, 504.822

Board Responsibilities: Oversight

No/Not Begun In Process Yes/ Complete Not Applicable Not Sure
The board conducts an annual evaluation of itself.
Periodically, the board reviews its size, composition and operational structure.
At a minimum of every two years, the board reviews the organization’s bylaws, mission statement, articles of incorporation and corporate policies and amends them as needed to reflect organizational growth and development.
The board actively participates in and approves the organization’s strategic plan.
The board conducts an annual performance review of the chief executive. The chief executive’s performance assessment is based on organizational accomplishments, and the total compensation package is reasonable, reflecting his/her performance as well as industry standards.
The board has a succession plan for the chief executive, board members and key staff.
The board has an organizational transition plan to maintain daily operations during a change in executive or board leadership.

We have a crisis communication plan written in the board manual.

Board Responsibilities: Fundraising & Development

No/Not Begun In Process Yes/ Complete Not Applicable Not Sure
All board members make personal financial contributions to the organization.
Board members volunteer their time and raise funds from external sources.
Board members are provided with fundraising training and support materials.
We provide training and education so that board members can advocate for the organization.



Board Responsibilities: Independence

No/Not Begun In Process Yes/ Complete Not Applicable Not Sure
Board members make decisions in the best interest of the organization and not in the interest of another entity, including themselves.
Each board member discloses all material facts and relationships and refrains from voting on any matter where there is a conflict of interest.
Board members (who are not employees) receive no monetary compensation from the organization.


Human Resources

General

No/Not Begun In Process Yes/ Complete Not Applicable Not Sure
We comply with all federal, state and local employment laws in hiring and employing personnel. US, NE, IA
We have established and abide by broad and encompassing anti-harassment and nondiscrimination policies. US
We have established employee and volunteer record retention policies and procedures that are consistent with applicable laws and best industry practices. US
We have an up-to-date conflict of interest policy and signed disclosure forms for the board, staff, and volunteers. US
We have a whistleblower policy with specific procedures for reporting violations of organizational policy or applicable laws and ensure that those making such reports are protected from repercussions. US
We have a personnel file(s) for each employee that includes all required federal and state documentation, as well as relevant employment, performance, disciplinary action and testing records with supporting documentation. This may be two separate files per employee—one accessible to direct supervisors and one held in confidence due to potential discriminatory information (i.e., health records, demographics, litigation, etc.) US, NE
We have workers’ compensation insurance. NE, IA
Our work environment is safe and healthy.

Policies, Procedures & Plans

No/Not Begun In Process Yes/ Complete Not Applicable Not Sure
We have a plan in place for the succession of the executive director, key board leadership and key employees.
We have a set of personnel policies and procedures. All employees receive a copy and submit a signed acknowledgement of such.
We have board-approved employee benefit policies, including medical insurance, retirement benefits, vacation and other paid time off, etc.
We have a set of volunteer policies and procedures; all volunteers receive a copy and submit a signed acknowledgement of such.
We consider best industry practices as well as our own unique circumstances when establishing policies and procedures.
We have all appropriate documents for our independent contractors on file.
We have a volunteer engagement plan that fits our needs.

Hiring, Development & Retention

No/Not Begun In Process Yes/ Complete Not Applicable Not Sure
We have a formal orientation program for new employees.
We support the training and development of personnel and provide them with opportunities for growth and advancement.
We provide clear, equitable procedures for taking disciplinary action with staff.
We employ individuals and utilize the help of volunteers suitable for the positions they occupy and committed to the mission, values and objectives of our organization.
We strive to employ staff and volunteers who reflect the diversity of the community, as appropriate for program effectiveness.
We conduct background checks on those who come in contact with vulnerable populations, who perform financial duties, or who serve in other sensitive areas.
We work to retain quality employees by providing and periodically assessing factors related to employee satisfaction, including fair compensation, training, and opportunity for advancement.

Performance & Compensation

No/Not Begun In Process Yes/ Complete Not Applicable Not Sure
All compensation paid is reasonable and substantiated. US
The board periodically reviews our organization’s compensation structure (including benefits) using industry-based salary and benefit surveys.
The board conducts an annual performance review of the chief executive. The chief executive’s performance assessment is based on organizational accomplishments, and the total compensation package is reasonable, reflecting his/her performance as well as industry standards.
We provide staff and volunteers with clear, current job descriptions and the tools they need to produce quality work.
We evaluate staff job performance annually.
A record of all performance evaluations, along with employee signature and comment, are kept in each employee’s personnel records, and used to help determine compensation.


Information Technology

Plans & Policies

No/Not Begun In Process Yes/ Complete Not Applicable Not Sure
We are aware of and in compliance with all regulations and industry standards relating to the types of data the organization collects, transmits, and stores. Examples include health care information under HIPAA, credit card information under PCI DSS, and online information from children under COPPA. US
We have a written document retention and destruction policy that also covers electronic files and voice mail. US
We have a written technology plan that is integrated into our short-term and long-term strategic and operational plans.
Our technology policy prescribes how all organizational information is gathered and stored, how accuracy is maintained, how and what information is backed up, and to whom information is made available.
We have a technology use policy that addresses personal use of the organization’s information and technology, such as computers, phones, social media, data, etc.
We have a technology security policy, including measures to ensure security if employees or volunteers have remote access to proprietary/confidential information.
We have a social media policy that outlines clear rules around the use of social media and designates one person to oversee social media efforts.
Our technology plan includes regular assessments and funds for maintenance and making necessary technology upgrades.
We maintain and are ready to implement a catastrophic recovery plan that includes hardware and software inventory for insurance purposes, off-site back-up of key data and software information, and remote/alternative access in the event of an emergency.

Systems & Support

No/Not Begun In Process Yes/ Complete Not Applicable Not Sure
We have reliable information systems in place that provide timely, accurate, and relevant information to facilitate workflow and track our data.
We have appropriate and up-to-date telecommunications equipment, compatible computer hardware and software, and internet access.
We have up-to-date virus protection, firewalls, and password protection.
More than one individual is responsible for maintaining our information systems. (One person should be primary and at least one should be back-up).
Our support agreements are up-to-date.
We allocate sufficient resources to train our board, employees, and volunteers in the use of technology equipment.
All staff and volunteers receive ongoing training on those systems that are relevant to their work.
We monitor ongoing technological developments that have the potential to impact our information systems or mission.


Planning

Mission

No/Not Begun In Process Yes/ Complete Not Applicable Not Sure
We have a clearly defined, written mission statement that guides the overall aims and activities of our organization and is linked to our values and vision for the future. US
We have a clear, motivating vision statement about the organization’s future that reflects a world enhanced by the accomplishment of our mission.
We have a values statement that reflects our core beliefs and principles and drives the work we do.
The board periodically reviews our mission, vision and values to consider societal and community changes.
Our board and staff can and do articulate a shared vision for the organization.

Stakeholder Input & Responsiveness

No/Not Begun In Process Yes/ Complete Not Applicable Not Sure
When planning activities, our organization is responsive to community needs and solicits input from a variety of sources with varying perspectives: staff, board members, funders and other constituents.
We openly communicate with counterparts in our field to share best practices, ensure effective resource allocation, and prevent duplication of services.


Strategic Plan

No/Not Begun In Process Yes/ Complete Not Applicable Not Sure
We create a written strategic plan every three to five years.
The strategic plan reflects the results of an environmental assessment that includes information on strengths/challenges the organization faces, as well as opportunities for, and perceived threats to mission achievement.
The plan includes clearly defined, measurable goals and objectives that are set by the organization to achieve our mission.

Operational Plan

No/Not Begun In Process Yes/ Complete Not Applicable Not Sure
We create a written operational plan every year which aligns with the strategic plan and specifies how organizational activities will be implemented.
The plan clearly defines specific operational, program, financial, fundraising, communication, personnel and evaluation activities; delineates timelines; and assigns specific responsibility for implementation.
The plan clearly identifies goals and performance measurements.
The plan is tied to an approved budget.
The plan provides a framework for regular progress reports and is reviewed and updated regularly by staff and board members.


Risk & Crisis Management

No/Not Begun In Process Yes/ Complete Not Applicable Not Sure
We have all necessary/appropriate insurance (i.e., general liability, property, directors and officers, etc.) to protect our organization, employees, volunteers and board members. US, NE, IA
We have workers’ compensation insurance. NE, IA
We have a risk management plan that protects the organization’s assets—its property, financial and human resources, documents, programmatic content and material.
We work with our board to monitor the risk management plan on a regular basis and update it as new risks are identified or as circumstances change.
Our bylaws include board liability and indemnification language that clearly define the circumstances under which the organization will indemnify its directors, officers, volunteers and employees against claims arising from the performance of their duties.
We have a crisis communication plan.
We have a data backup and recovery plan.
We have a fund development (diversification of funds) plan.
We have a leadership/executive transition plan.
We have an advocacy plan.


Public Policy & Advocacy

Public Policy & Lobbying

No/Not Begun In Process Yes/ Complete Not Applicable Not Sure
We are aware of the 501(h) election. US
We ensure that the activities of the organization are nonpartisan. US
We adhere to all electioneering laws and regulation, including remaining non-partisan in position, communication and activities. US
When we promote public participation, we ensure that our activities are nonpartisan and within permissible lobbying limitations. US
We never use federal funds to pay for lobbying activities. US
We understand that we may support/oppose legislation subject to lobbying limitations. US
When we engage in lobbying, we adhere to legal expenditure limitations. US
Our lobbyists are properly registered at the federal (if applicable) and state levels. US, NE, IA
We file accurate and timely reports on our lobbying activities. US, NE, IA
We participate in and support the formation and amendment of public policy consistent with our mission.
We have an understanding of the current public climate and the resulting impact on policy.
We assist our constituencies in public and civic engagement by encouraging voting and other participation in local, state and federal policy-making efforts.
We ensure that board and staff distinguish between personal opinion and organizational positions.
We have procedures in place to track lobbying expenses for reporting purposes.

Advocacy

No/Not Begun In Process Yes/ Complete Not Applicable Not Sure
We proactively develop strategies to address key issues facing our organization, its constituencies and the nonprofit sector, and we include our stakeholders in those efforts.
We advocate publicly on behalf of our mission and organizational values.
We encourage our board members, staff, volunteers and constituents to act as advocates and ambassadors for our organization and the entire nonprofit sector.
We ensure that individuals who are authorized to act as advocates and ambassadors for our organization are knowledgeable and prepared to speak on our behalf.
We ensure that information provided to policy makers, the media and the public is timely and accurate, and that the social and political context of information is clear to avoid misunderstanding or manipulation of the message.
For our public policy and advocacy activities, we have adopted a written policy that clarifies the scope of the work, as well as the time and resources to be allocated to those activities.
We build relationships with elected officials, community leaders and other nonprofits in order to strengthen our ability to effect change and impact public policy.
We provide stakeholders with nonpartisan resources and training on issues important to us and our constituencies.


Strategic Alliances

Assessment

No/Not Begun In Process Yes/ Complete Not Applicable Not Sure
We are open to strategic alliances as a means to help achieve goals, improve effectiveness and efficiency, ensure effective use of resources, improve services, and strengthen community connections with constituents and others.
We carefully consider how entering into strategic alliances will affect all parties involved and identify the key staff, board, and other stakeholders that should be involved.
We do not create strategic alliances purely to meet funding challenges.
We only create alliances with competent and functioning organizations.
The board regularly conducts environmental scans to identify organizations providing similar services and to assess our relationship to those organizations.
Decisions regarding alliances are consistent with the strategic goals of our organization and will positively impact our brand and image.

Relationship Building & Strategies

No/Not Begun In Process Yes/ Complete Not Applicable Not Sure
We are aware of and coordinate with other organizations providing similar or complementary services in our community.
We identify, promote, and provide referrals to other organizations that may be better able to meet the needs of constituents.
As appropriate, we foster relationships with similar organizations; state, regional, and national associations; government; and business to ensure effective use of charitable resources and to advance our mission.
We receive assistance from larger, more experienced nonprofits through alliances and resource sharing.
As appropriate, we assist smaller and/or less experienced nonprofits through alliances and resource sharing.
We openly communicate with other nonprofits to gather information and share lessons learned and best practices.
Our board of directors is open to consolidating or merging with other organizations if it would be in the best interest of our constituents, community, or service area.
We have written policies and procedures governing the activities of our chapters, branches, and affiliates.
We have researched and understand the tax implications and the potential exempt status impact of partnering with a for-profit entity.
We ensure board approval with full knowledge of our legal obligations and liabilities when undertaking responsibility for fiscal sponsorship of another organization. (Note: the IRS views fiscal agency differently from fiscal sponsorship; get legal advice before proceeding).
We have written policies and procedures that guide our organization in assessing, establishing, working in, and dissolving strategic alliances.
We work to establish communication channels, mutual understanding, and natural alliances among the government, nonprofit and for-profit sectors.
We have a written memo of agreement/understanding for every collaborative commitment.


Transparency & Accountability

Accountability

No/Not Begun In Process Yes/ Complete Not Applicable Not Sure
We comply with all legal, tax, financial and other filing/reporting procedures required by the federal government, including the 990. US
We have a written, mandatory document retention and destruction policy, including guidelines for handling electronic files and voicemail, back-up procedures, archiving of documents and regular check-ups of the reliability of the system. US
We meet all federal and state requirements for disclosure. US, NE, IA
We comply with all legal, tax, financial and other filing/reporting procedures required by the state, including the biennial report and liquor and gaming licenses (if applicable). NE, IA
We register our professional commercial fundraisers with the Attorney General, obtain a permit and update it as required. IA
We use our resources responsibly for the purpose of serving the public interest. Financial audits are approved by the organization’s board and certified by the Executive Director and the CFO.
We adhere to established, professional standards for the nonprofit sector, our subsector and our particular activity area(s).
We have established and regularly measure clearly defined levels of performance in our activities, and we share those with the public.

Accessibility & Public Information

No/Not Begun In Process Yes/ Complete Not Applicable Not Sure
We have our EIN, IRS determination letter, articles of incorporation, bylaws, resolutions, board meeting minutes, records of actions taken by the board, accounting records, current list of board members and current membership list (if applicable) as readily accessible permanent records. US, NE, IA
We provide our constituents with ongoing opportunities to interact with the board and management regarding the organization’s activities.
We engage all stakeholders in the development of goals and service delivery methods.
We provide multiple means for contacting the organization to request information and provide input.
We make information about our operations, governance, finances, programs and activities widely available to the public. In the form of an annual report, this includes:
  • An explanation of our mission, activities and results
  • An explanation of how individuals can access programs/services
  • Overall financial information, income and expense statements, balance sheets, functional expense allocations
  • A list of board members, staff, supporters and donors
We openly communicate with other nonprofit organizations to share lessons learned and best practices.

Fairness & Equity Practices

No/Not Begun In Process Yes/ Complete Not Applicable Not Sure
We have a whistleblower policy with specific procedures for reporting violations of organizational policy or applicable laws and ensure that those making such reports are protected from repercussions. US
We have a written conflict of interest policy that is signed by board members, staff and volunteers. US
Information regarding our fees and services is readily available to the public.
We ensure confidentiality and non-discriminatory service to our constituents.
We have a written code of ethics that our board members, staff and volunteers adhere to.


Volunteer Engagement

No/Not Begun In Process Yes/ Complete Not Applicable Not Sure
We have a volunteer engagement plan that includes the following elements:
  • Purpose statement – identifies what benefit(s) the organization gains from the effective use of volunteers
  • Organizational assessment – analyzes the organization’s readiness for volunteers
  • Budget – determines if organization has the financial resources to support a volunteer program
  • Roles and responsibilities – clearly defines roles, responsibilities, and relationships between staff and volunteers
We have a written position description for every volunteer position.
Volunteer recruitment activities are targeted and specific, clearly identifying the work to be done, the hours to be committed, and the intended impacts of the volunteer activity.
We have established screening procedures to ensure the safety of clients and minimize potential liability to the organization.
Volunteer assignments are made with careful consideration of the volunteer’s skills, needs, and interests.
We have current written volunteer policies and procedures that are accessible to all volunteers, including attendance policies, confidentiality policies, grievance procedures, and other key information to minimize risk and maximize effectiveness.
We have a system whereby volunteers are oriented and trained for the specific skills and knowledge needed to perform their volunteer roles, as well as to understand the limits of their work and the latitude they may have for decision-making on behalf of the organization.
We have an ongoing orientation/communication plan to keep volunteers apprised of changes within the organization as well as enhanced opportunities for volunteer involvement.
Each volunteer has a direct connection to an identified supervisor and understands with whom to communicate when the supervisor is unavailable.
We have a clear and documented grievance procedure whereby volunteers may address issues including (but not limited to) harassment and discrimination.
We have clearly articulated and documented accountability and discipline procedures for volunteers that address lack of performance as well as policy violations.
We have a thoughtful recognition system which provides individual and group recognition and celebrates the impact of volunteers.
Volunteer performance is evaluated regularly (at least annually) with the supervisor through a formal process. **Note: the depth of performance evaluations should be appropriate to the role and scope of service the volunteer provides. One-time (or episodic) volunteers can be evaluated in much less detail.**
The volunteer program as a whole is evaluated annually to assess cost and benefits of the program, to document impact on mission achievement, and to direct future volunteer initiatives.