Non Profit Standards – A Request For An Upgrade

Non Profit Standards – A Request For An Upgrade

 I have never been a big fan of the word standard. Schools gave us standardized tests. When you check into a hotel the least expensive choice tends to be the standard room. Cars only come with the basic, standard parts - extras are for a fee. Even in my current work environment, if your office is “producing the standard” it means that you are one bad sales month away from losing your job. When people talk about someone that is older, single, who does not date a lot, they will say, “He has high standards.” The term implies that there are the basics that you will or can accept in your life or the basic levels that some others will accept of you. I think these same theories apply to the nonprofit industry expectations and the massive list of standard rules.

Because of industry growth the Association of Fundraising Professionals updated their AFP Code of Ethics and last year added seven new standards to the list. The new standards relate to how business members interact with charities and their responsibilities to their clients. The list includes the following: Standard 7: Members shall present and supply products and / or services honestly and without misrepresentations, Standard 10: Members shall refrain from any activity designed to disparage competitors untruthfully, and Standard 11: Members shall protect the confidentiality of all privileged information. It’s not that I don’t think there is a need for new rules but I reject the assumption that we set standards at the lowest possible level. I would much rather dream about driving a Mercedes that is full of options then one that is packaged with the standard choices. I wish the nonprofit industry dreamed a little bigger when setting the standards that each of us should work and live by.

One of my favorite standards comes from the BBB Wise Giving Allowance for Charity Accountability. It’s actually not a standard but a strongly encouraged management practice that charitable organizations should adopt to further the cause of charitable accountability.

  •  Initiate a policy promoting pluralism and diversity within the organization’s board, staff, and constituencies. While organizations vary widely in their ability to demonstrate pluralism and diversity, every organization should establish a policy, consistent with its mission statement, which fosters such inclusiveness.

I like what it implies, I like what it fights for, and I like that you have to step up and out of your comfort zone to reach it. I like that it asks to set a policy where one might not exist. I like that it can be reviewed yearly and improved upon. I like that is full of action and there is nothing basic or simple about it. This is a high standard that challenges people in its assumptions. This is an upgraded room in a really nice hotel, a sales month that blows the competition away, or the perfect date that for which you waited so long.  There should be nothing standard about having standards.

Kirk Meyer Bradshaw is a Financial Advisor with Edward Jones Investments. He holds a BBA degree from the University of Louisiana and an M.A. in Philanthropy from New York University. Kirk currently has a 15 year career in the financial services industry working with over 500 families in the Arkansas area managing over $100 Million in investments.

Kirk currently serves on the Board of Directors for Youth Home, Inc., Our House, and the State Board for the Arkansas Literacy Council System. Kirk was recently appointed in 2009 by Governor Mike Beebe to serve as a trustee for The State Police Retirement System.

Kirk currently resides in both New York and Arkansas and is currently taking classes at Columbia University in the Executive MBA program.

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