Nonprofit organizations have long embraced the need for standards of ethical practice that preserve and strengthen the public’s confidence. Many such systems in fact already exist, though none applied to the entire range of American charitable organizations.

The Panel on the Nonprofit Sector was created in October 2004 to strengthen transparency, governance, and ethical standards within the nonprofit community.

This document, updated in 2015, sets forth a comprehensive set of principles to inform the field. Its purpose is to reinforce a common understanding of transparency, accountability, and good governance for the sector as a whole-not only to ensure ethical and trustworthy behavior, but equally important, to spotlight strong practices that contribute to the effectiveness, durability, and broad popular support for charitable organizations of all kinds.

This report outlines 33 practices to support board members and staff leaders of charitable organizations as they work to improve operations.

The practices are organized into four categories:

  1. Legal compliance and public disclosure
  2. Effective governance
  3. Strong financial oversight
  4. Responsible fundraising

Each practice is accompanied with a brief explanation and solutions or resources for carrying it out.