Guidelines & Principles FAQ
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Frequently Asked Questions

Contents

 

What is the Guidelines & Principles Assessment?

     The Guidelines & Principles program is one of our core services. The assessment is designed to help you identify organizational strengths and challenges and to effectively action plan for the future. We are proud to say our program is a leader among state associations and one of the only online self-assessment tools. The assessment is structured around twelve guiding principles for nonprofits, with each section containing legal, essential, and recommended practices. We encourage members to update their assessment annually.

This guide is not meant to be construed as legal advice, nor is it a substitute for individualized consultation with an attorney.

What kind of content is included in the Guidelines & Principles Assessment?

The assessment is structured around twelve guiding principles for nonprofits: Communication, Evaluation, Financial Management, Fundraising, Governance, Human Resources, Information Technology, Planning, Public Policy & Advocacy, Strategic Alliances, Transparency & Accountability, and Volunteer Management. Each contains legal, essential, and recommended practices for nonprofits.

What do I get for taking the assessment?

You get access to an online survey tool that walks you though our 12 focus areas, including legal, essential, and recommended practices for nonprofits. You also get a customized report that includes your confidential responses as well as best practices and resources for each focus area. Finally, NAM members are eligible to be recognized for their excellent performance as a Best Practice Partner.

What is a Best Practice Partner?

We recognize outstanding nonprofits through our Best Practice Partnership program. To become a Best Practice Partner, you must complete the assessment and align with all legally compliant practices. In addition, we require organizations to affirm their commitment by signing a board resolution. (See here). We proudly display our Best Practice Partners logos on our website and recognize them at our annual conferences. We also provide lists of Best Practice Partners to funding agencies who request them (updated as of application deadlines).

 

I have follow-up legal or financial questions

Guidelines & Principles for Nonprofit Excellence in Iowa & Nebraska provided by the Nonprofit Association of the Midlands (NAM) has been made available for educational and informational purposes only. It is not intended to provide legal, financial, accounting, or tax advice and should not be relied upon in that manner. We suggest hiring an attorney, accountant, and/or financial advisor to answer any financial or legal questions. NAM is not responsible for any direct, indirect, incidental, consequential or any other damages arising out of or in connection with the use of this document or in reliance on the information available through it. This includes any personal injury, business interruption, loss of use, lost data, lost profits or any other pecuniary loss, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortuous action, even if NAM has been informed of the possibility.

Taking the Assessment

I can’t find the link to the Guidelines & Principles assessment! How do I start or get back in?

NAM members should check their email and spam for our invitation or reminders which contain their personalized link. Members who can’t find their link or log back in can contact Rosey or Thaddaeus for assistance. The general public or members can use the link posted above.

I am unsure about our status on a few items. Do I need to consult a legal or financial professional?

We would recommend selecting the “Not Sure” option for now to complete the assessment to the best of your knowledge. After viewing your report, you can then follow up with us, review our available member resources, or seek professional advice on specific items.

I missed the survey window deadline. Can I still take the assessment?

Yes! Although we encourage members to complete the assessment during the survey window to maximize your experience, it is available year round.

Why do funders require that I take the Guidelines & Principles assessment?

Our assessment is designed to help you identify organizational strengths and challenges and to effectively action plan for the future. Some funders consider as a capacity building exercise and see value in requiring the assessment as part of their funding cycles. We do provide lists of organizations that have completed the survey by their respective application deadlines. We do not, however, provide your results to funders or other organizations. We recommend you double check to see whether funding agencies require that you complete the assessment or require completion and Best Practice Partner status. If they require you to become a Best Practice Partner, you will need to meet all legally compliant items and affirm your commitment via simple board resolution (see Question 4).

I don’t have time to take this. Can I skip this?

NAM members are not required to complete the assessment! We understand things can get a little hectic in the nonprofit world, which is why we have streamlined and updated our processes to reduce burden on you. We encourage you to take time to fill out this tool not for our own sake, but rather to support your organization. Some funders see value in requiring the assessment as part of their funding cycles. We do provide lists of organizations that have completed the survey by their respective application deadlines. We do not, however, provide your results to funders or other organizations.

Why did you change the Guidelines & Principles tools?

We heard your feedback about the length and difficulty of completing past tools. We wanted to make this process better and easier for you! We’ve steamlined the tools into one assessment and updated the content to be shorter, more efficient, and more structured to improve the user experience. We’re also using annual invitations, data piping, hotline support, and annual benchmarks to maximize your experience.

Why do I need to take this annually?

As nonprofits, our work in each of these 12 areas is ongoing. We believe your assessment results should reflect the continuous improvement that we all value. So, we now offer the assessment to NAM members on an annual basis with invitations to participate and reminders. Updating annually will allow you to track your organizational progress over time and maintain eligibility as a Best Practice Partner. An annual window for NAM members also allows for piping of past data, more personalized hotline support, and annual benchmarks through an overall nonprofit sector report.

Using the Results

Will you share my results with funders?

As always, NAM will never share your results with other organizations or funders. We do provide lists of organizations who have completed the assessment as well as lists of Best Practice Partners to funding agencies who request them. Again, your actual results are not shared. We also report on the nonprofit sector as a whole using aggregate data, so your organization’s identity will be protected.

If I am legally noncompliant on a few items - am I in trouble?

NAM is not the nonprofit police. We provide these items to you to better improve your organization. Although legal practices are considered top priority and we recommend you investigate any red flags, these results belong to your organization and are kept confidential.

How can I find my past Guidelines & Principles report?

NAM can customize based on tool/system. Just contact Rosey or Thaddaeus for a copy of prior reports.