Standards for Excellence Accreditation

Why a Code of Excellence is Important

Nonprofit organizations are sophisticated and complex, and communities rely on them for a broad scope of services. Public investment and confidence drive the success of these nonprofit organizations as individuals, corporations, foundations, and federal, state, and local governments invest time, resources, and funds. Nonprofit organizations can raise the level of accountability, transparency, and effectiveness with accreditation in the Standards for Excellence through the Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits. Research shows that adherence to an ethical code can help foster excellence and inspire trust in the nonprofit sector, while raising overall performance for the organization.

Accredited and Recognized Organizations

Standards for Excellence accredited organizations participate in an intensive three-stage independent review process that confirms they meet all the benchmarks in the Standards for Excellence code. Congratulations to the following organizations, who have been accredited through Standards for Excellence with Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits:


Accreditation through the Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits provides a way for organization to demonstrate that they are going beyond the minimum legal requirements of local, state and federal regulations. It shows that an organization is committed to raising the level of principled and responsible practices within the nonprofit sector. Accreditation in the Standards for Excellence is a model for organizations to implement throughout their operating plans so they can gain a deeper understanding of their effectiveness, improve their decision-making and minimize risks. Nonprofits that adhere to this model – and become formally accredited under the Standards for Excellence code – earn the right to display the Seal of Excellence throughout their organization.

In 2008, BoardSource named the Standards for Excellence code as “one of the most important milestones in the field of nonprofit governance in the last 20 years.” Accreditation takes Standards for Excellence a step further, providing an opportunity for nonprofits to show the public that they live by the tenets, benchmarks and practices of the Standards for Excellence code. Organizations that are fully accredited and earn the seal of excellence may display the seal on their organization’s Candid (formerly Guidestar) profile – a visible symbol of trust to donors and the public. Organizations that are recognized at any of the tiered accreditation levels may use the recognition throughout their organization and its materials.


A research study* found that nonprofit organizations show tangible benefits from receiving the Standards for Excellence accreditation. The study found that the accreditation process is associated with an increase in direct public support. Stakeholders react positively to organizations receiving the Standards for Excellence Accreditation by allocating more resources to the nonprofit. The research provides supporting evidence of the positive impacts of the certification program offered by the Standards for Excellence Institute and its licensed partners, like Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits.

*Study conducted by faculty at Suffolk University, the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.

Accreditation Process

Applying for accreditation is a cooperative, staged process between each organization and the Center. The stages include a thorough review by staff, a peer review by vetted volunteer third-party professionals, and final approval by a team of volunteer nonprofit experts who serve on the Oklahoma Ethics Standards Committee. Applications are reviewed with consideration of each nonprofit’s individual mission, size and resources. Applicants are provided with custom recommendations at each stage of review that are intended to strengthen the organization’s impact and qualify them as a Standards for Excellence Seal holder. Organizations also have the option to be recognized for significant accomplishments through the tiered recognition program.

How to get started

  1. Start with a review your organization’s accreditation readiness. Click here to download the self-assess tool.
  2. The process officially begins when the Board votes to formally enter into the Standards for Excellence accreditation program (meeting minutes required.) and the organization submits the intent to apply form.


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