Guidelines & Principles FAQ
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Frequently Asked Questions



What's the purpose of Guidelines & Principles

Guidelines & Principles for Nonprofit Excellence in Nebraska & Iowa has three intended purposes:

  1. Provide individual charitable organizations striving for excellence with a state-specific tool for evaluating regulatory compliance, enhancing strategic planning, and refining operational evaluation.
  2. Support the growth and quality of the sector.
  3. Increase public understanding of the role and contributions of the charitable nonprofit sector in Nebraska & Iowa.

Please note that these guidelines and principles are not designed to be used by funders or government as a “litmus test” to evaluate charitable organizations, nor are they intended to be a substitute for the wisdom of directors, staff, and advisors of individual organizations.

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

What's the Infrastructure Checklist?

This Infrastructure Checklist is a quick guide to the documentation, systems, policies, procedures, and support mechanisms that nonprofit organizations should have in place to comply with the law, and to function effectively, efficiently, and transparently.

The Checklist is focused on WHAT YOU SHOULD HAVE IN PLACE rather than HOW you should use those systems/processes.

The Checklist recommendations are applicable to small grassroots organizations and large, multi-site networks. It provides a starting point for 501(c)(3) organizations in Nebraska and Iowa. Please keep in mind that your organization may be subject to additional rules or regulations due to your unique mission, subsector, or activities.

Compiling the Checklist information is well worth your time. Much of this information is needed to receive grant funding and demonstrate professional accountability to the public, your clients, and prospective donors.

What's the Practices Assessment?

This assessment is designed to help you identify what your organization is doing well and create an action plan for addressing organizational challenges. Honesty is critical to conducting a thorough assessment and establishing real goals. Whether your results are a cause for celebration, make you mildly uncomfortable, or send up multiple red flags for potential crisis or conflict, please remember that the results belong to your organization. They are the first step in moving towards making your organization stronger, more efficient, and having greater mission impact.

The Practices Assessment is:

A starting point for organizational assessment and planning

It will present a broad overview of your organization’s current level of functioning and provide resources to strengthen areas of weakness.

A non-judgmental resource

Guidelines & Principles is an internal assessment tool, not an instrument for comparing your organization to others. It is designed for you to compare your organization’s practices to the best ones in the sector to help you determine the strengths and challenges of your nonprofit. Your results should be considered within the context of your organization’s stage of development as well. Organizations early in their development may naturally score lower in some areas than more mature organizations. Understanding nonprofit lifecycles and the interconnectedness of capacity and impact is critical in setting appropriate benchmarks and goals for your organization.

Brief and relatively painless

Rather than focus on one particular aspect of your organization, this tool provides a quick “first glance” of the entire organization, focusing on the interconnection and relevance of all actions to organizational accountability and mission achievement.

How do I participate in the assessments?

You can participate in either assessment by visiting our assessment site here.

Guidelines & Principles includes two separate assessments.

  1. Infrastructure Checklist
  2. Practices Assessment

Instructions & Information

  • Click the URL above to begin taking the assessment
  • Every question is mandatory. There are options for Not Sure and N/A Responses are automatically saved on a page-by-page basis
  • You can leave the assessment and return using any computer/any browser using your unique URL
  • Upon completion, an email will be sent to you with a link to your results. There will be a link at the top of the page to download your results as a PDF.

I'm feeling overwhelmed by the questions!

We understand there is a lot of information on the Guidelines & Principles and we advise you not to overthink it. The Guidelines & Principles are designed to help you know where you are and determine where and how you want to proceed.  Nonprofits need solid organizational infrastructure to be successful in achieving their missions and the Guidelines & Principles is designed to help you do just that.  

Our assessments are not intended to be burdensome or time consuming. That’s why we’ve designed them to be completed at your own pace. When you register for these assessments, you will receive a unique link so that you can return any number of times. This also enables other staff/board members to access the assessments and update as needed. As such, these assessments can take as little or as much time as you are willing to invest. 

Are there resources to assist in completing these assessments?

NAM has developed a companion informational resource to these assessments which might be beneficial to use as you work through the assessments. In the Guidelines & Principles Wiki, you will find further reading, templates, and sample documents, in addition to more background information as to the nature of each of the assessments. 

How does my organization become a Best Practice Partner?

  1. Become a NAM member
  2. Complete the two Guidelines & Principles online assessments and discuss the resulting reports with your entire board and key staff
  3. Submit a Board/ED Resolution to declaring your legal compliance and commitment to the Guidelines and Principles

For more information, visit our Best Practices Partnership page

How will my information be used?

The Nonprofit Association of the Midlands is committed to safeguarding your organization's privacy. The data collected from these assessments will only be made available to you. The Nonprofit Association of the Midlands will only aggregate basic demographic data (subsector, location) to better understand the state and needs of the nonprofit sector as a whole.  We will not share, sell, rent or trade any of your organization's individual results.

I have follow-up legal or financial questions.

Guidelines & Principles for Nonprofit Excellence in Nebraska & Iowa 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.

I'm done! So how often do I need to resubmit the assessment and checklist?

Once completed, your Guidelines & Principles responses are valid for 30 months from the date of your last update. If 30 months pass without any action then you will have to resubmit your responses, but not to worry, your responses will be saved. As a best practice we recommend reviewing your responses between 18-30 months after your submission date. Many of the NAM community members regularly update their responses throughout the year as a way of tracking and evaluating their progress.