The Standards for Excellence Institute is a nation-wide program that promotes self-regulation of ethical and accountable practices within the nonprofit sector. The Standards for Excellence originated as a special initiative of Maryland Nonprofits in 1998 and has since expanded into a national program to help nonprofit organizations achieve the highest benchmarks of ethics and accountability in nonprofit governance, management and operations. The program has been formally adopted by several state, regional and national affiliate organizations, and is supported by a roster of Licensed Consultants and over 100 volunteers with professional experience in nonprofit governance and administration. Since its inception, the program has accredited over 200 individual nonprofit organizations that completed a rigorous application and review process to demonstrate adherence to the Standards for Excellence: An Ethics and Accountability Code for the Nonprofit Sector.
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. The Institutes program has been cited as exemplary at hearings and roundtables before the US Senate Committee on Finance and the American Society of Association Executives.