Reimagined Key Areas of Nonprofit Excellence

November 17th, 2021

The 40,000+ nonprofits in the New York City area represent one of the largest and most diverse communities of nonprofits in the country. These nonprofits are crucial to the economy, social fabric, and safety net.  In every single neighborhood, nonprofits facilitate and motivate civic engagement, and enable communities to make meaning, art, and change together.  

Nonprofit New York developed the Key Areas of Nonprofit Excellence to give nonprofits a roadmap of core management excellence areas and performance strategies. In 2020, we made a decision and created a plan to collaborate with you, our stakeholders, to reimagine and rebuild a sector that meaningfully centers racial equity not only in the work we all do, but also in the ways we do the work. We recruited and convened a representative and inclusive working group of 28 nonprofit leaders, who worked in small groups to look critically at our Key Areas of Nonprofit Excellence through a lens of racial equity.  They then identified pooled tools and resources to support the implementation of the Key Areas. Through our collective work we created a robust list of principles and practices that seek to translate an awareness of racial equity ideas into actions. We understand that nonprofits vary dramatically in tenure, budget size, and mission and recognize that management. We offer these revised Key Areas as a good starting point for evaluating your organization’s management practices and supporting efforts to reimagine what is possible, center racial equity, confront white supremacy, and demand real impact.

Underlying each of these principles is an assumption that the organization complies with federal, state, and city regulations that apply to nonprofits generally, and various nonprofit fields specifically. Each of the Key Areas includes: (1) an explanation of the topic; (2) baseline standards that Nonprofit New York believes must be met in order to demonstrate strong nonprofit practice; and, (3) aspirational practices that demonstrate progress and deepening strength of the nonprofit sector. The Key Areas are intersectional and are a guide, but are not meant to serve as a checklist, or a mandate. Instead, we hope they inspire you to think about your nonprofit’s management and what would work best for you and your community. In line with our understanding that excellence evolves, we expect the list to change over time as we work to ensure that racial equity is a condition of success.  

Though originally developed for Nonprofit New York’s Nonprofit Excellence Awards program, the Key Areas are used throughout all of Nonprofit New York’s programming . We hope these Key Areas of Nonprofit Excellence inspire your organization to grow and evolve. If you want to get involved in our next phase of work that explores and creates racial equity goals and accountability measures to be utilized by individual organizations and the sector as a whole, please email Lakimja Mattocks, Chief Equity and Learning Officer.