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Guidelines & Principles Assessment



What is the Guidelines & Principles Assessment?

The Guidelines & Principles assessment is designed to help you identify organizational strengths and challenges to effectively action plan for the future. This assessment is regularly updated to reflect legal requirements and current best practices across the sector, including practices that are required to receive external funding and critical to demonstrate professional accountability to the public, your stakeholders, and prospective donors. We hope these results help support you and your organization to become stronger and more efficient.

How are assessment results used?

We encourage you to be completely honest with your responses; these results belong to you and your organization. NAM will never share your results with other organizations or funders. Any reporting on Guidelines & Principles compliance will only be in aggregate, will not identify you or your organization, and will only be used to understand the nonprofit sector and improve NAM’s offerings. Finally, this assessment has been made available for educational and informational purposes only. It is not intended to provide legal, financial, accounting, or tax advice and should not be relied upon in that manner. Additionally, this tool does not include an exhaustive list of all applicable laws for your organization; further, federal, state, and local laws continually change.

What does the assessment measure?

The assessment is structured around twelve guiding principles for nonprofits. Each of the twelve sections lists legal, essential, and recommended practices, followed by an overview of best practices. We recommend answering each of the twelve sections to the best of your knowledge now, knowing that you can always update your results later. At the end of each section, an overview of best practices provides additional details, guidelines, and considerations for each of the twelve areas. Our [Wiki] contains detailed information to help guide you through the language in each section.


Legal Practices Legally required for all nonprofits by federal or state law (NE, IA). These practices are top priority for nonprofits in order to maintain their exempt status.
Essential Practices Widely-recognized standards and generally expected of nonprofits. These practices create a foundation of credibility and trust in the nonprofit sector.
Recommended Practices Should be considered by all nonprofits, although implementation depends on capacity and life stage. Some are more fundamental whereas others are more aspirational.
How do I complete the assessment?

Each section of this tool contains items for one assessment area. Please remember there are no right or wrong answers and your responses will be kept completely confidential. You will categorize where your organization falls on implementation of each item by selecting one of five options below:
Yes Our practices directly align with this item.
In Progress We are currently in the process of aligning our practices with this item.
No Our practices do not align with this item.
Not Sure We want to come back to this item after we seek out more information.
Not Applicable (NA) This item does not apply to our organization (e.g., due to size, context, offerings).

Finally, if you need multiple sessions or multiple respondents to complete the assessment, you can select "Save and Continue" at the bottom right of the following pages. This will send a personalized link with your responses to a preferred email address so you may resume your progress at a later date.