A third-party endorsement is becoming a must have for any nonprofit who wishes to stand out above the crowd; it’s the nod of approval for your organization from an outside source.

It could be another organization you work with, an association to which you belong, or accreditation from one of several charity oversight organizations. Your partnerships and accreditations are an indication of success and best practices. From a philanthropic perspective, donors are more comfortable making use of your services and supporting your work when they see you are transparent.

There are several charity oversight and accreditation organizations you can pursue. Each involves a process of making sure you have established policies and documentation of those policies. Once you have these endorsements or accreditations, show them off! You did the good work, now showcase the endorsement logos on your website, your letterhead, social media posts.

Another way to “endorse” your organization is to include your collaborations with other nonprofits so visitors to your website will see your active role in the community. As you may know, funders love collaborative nonprofits. This is an indicator that you don’t work in a vacuum, but rather are part of the larger picture regarding your area of service. Showing these collaborations and accreditations will show a level of recognized expertise and professionalism but also show that you value community.

To a funder, collaborations show you’re not afraid to ask for help in an area you may not be an expert in; rather than trying to provide a service for a need you’re not equipped for – financially or programmatically. It builds trust among your greatest potential allies in the community. This holds such importance that funders are showing financial support for collaborations by funding the initial exploration process and the actual implementation. (Source: grantspace.org)

Some of the following endorsements and accreditations we recommend are:

Better Business Bureau: their charity review process is rigorous and well-respected and has 20 standards to meet. Thousands of funders are looking to BBB to see if their benefitting organization is accredited. The BBB standards concern policies and practices with regard to governance, oversite, and transparency fundraising. Check out the full list of accredited organizations here.

GuideStar: while this isn’t an evaluator or watchdog, they do hold your information including a place for you to keep your 990’s up to date. Your donors and those who utilize your services can also review you on GuideStar. GuideStar offers information on Financials, Programs, Missions, Expert Reviews, and more. Another pro for GuideStar, each organization has its own profile page which can be edited and added too.

Charity Navigator: a non-profit must meet certain criteria before being rated by Charity Navigator. Some of these requirements include charities with revenue of at least $1 million in revenue for two consecutive years, US Based charities, or charities that have been in existence for at least 7 years with corresponding 990’s. Their website lists all criteria markers.

While each of these endorsements require time and documentation, you will be glad you did and your donors will thank you! ♦

This blog post was originally posted in June 2020 by Kirstin VanderMolen, Senior Strategist at Kennari Consulting, and has been updated.