Policies provide a framework to assist in the decision making process for individuals in organizations. In a nonprofit organization, it is the responsibility of the board of directors to adopt and amend policies for the organization.
Although each organization is unique and has needs for specific policies related to service delivery, there are key policies that every nonprofit organization should consider adopting. It is these policies that guide the actions individuals should take in making decisions and fulfilling the organization’s mission.
Policies for Nonprofit Organizations
In addition to program and organization specific policies, the following are policies nonprofit organizations can consider adopting:
Bylaws: Outlines how the organization is to be governed.
Code of Ethics: Strategies and guidelines to help determine what is right and wrong.
Compensation Policy: Process in which the board determines the salary of the executive director/CEO.
Confidentiality Policy: What information is to not be shared with others and how to handle sensitive information.
Conflict of Interest Policy: Written policy to address how a nonprofit can balance the interests of the organization and interests of the individuals involved in the organization.
Document Retention and Destruction Policy: States the amount of time documents and communications for the organization should be retained and at what time they should be properly destroyed.
Drug/Alcohol Policy: Includes information on limits and testing procedures regarding drugs and/or alcohol for individuals involved with the organization, including employees.
Employee/Personnel Policy: Standards, benefits and disciplinary information applying to employees of the organization. Also typically includes equal employment opportunity policy statements and nepotism policy.
Financial Policies: Includes information on the handling and accounting of funds. Includes policies on reserves, endowments, investing, financial controls, capital expenditures and risk management.
Gift Acceptance Policy: States what gifts are accepted by the organization, the process for determining if a gift will be accepted, and how the gifts are handled once accepted.
Media Policy: Outlines who can represent the organization as a spokesperson with the media and speak on behalf of the organization.
Sexual Harassment Policy: A policy stating the organization’s position on unwanted offensive remarks towards individuals.
Social Media Policy: Includes information on how the organization is represented through social media networks and expectations for employees in regards to participation and behavior in social media.
Whistle-blower Policy: Protection for those who speak up against improper, illegal or unethical actions and clear steps one can take to report such actions.
Interested in reviewing samples of policies to explore developing and adopting them in your organization? Check out some of these great policy sample resources:
BoardSource: BoardSource is known for their focus on building effective nonprofit boards and they offer a large collection of downloadable policy samples at a nominal cost.
IdeaEncore: IdeaEncore provides an opportunity for nonprofit professionals to share ideas and samples with each other. Users can search the site for sample documents posted by fellow professionals.
National Council of Nonprofits: The National Council of Nonprofits offers sample policies in the areas of administration and management, boards and governance, communications and marketing, ethics and accountability, evaluation and measurement, fundraising, leadership, membership, principles and practices, risk management and insurance, technology, and volunteers.
Nonprofit Resource Center: Although the Nonprofit Resource Center is focused on services for nonprofits in the Sacramento, CA region, their library of sample policies are a great resource to nonprofits across the United States.
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