Update on NHC’s Standards of Excellence Certification Program® for Voluntary Health Agency Members

By: Bob Scott, Director, Member Services

As both a benefit and a requirement of membership in the National Health Council (NHC), all patient advocacy organizations who join as Voluntary Health Agency (VHA) members must agree to meet and remain in compliance with the Standards of Excellence (SOE) Certification Program®. This program is a set of good operating practices to ensure that our VHA members maintain the highest standards of organizational effectiveness and public stewardship. The SOE Certification Program provides great reputational value to our VHA members.

The 38 Standards cover the areas of governance, human resources, programs, fundraising, finance, accounting and reporting, and evaluation. These standards are completely aligned with, but more extensive than, the Standards for Charity Accountability adopted by the BBB Wise Giving Alliance (WGA). The NHC Standards are also consistent with Independent Sector’s Principles for Good Governance and Ethical Practice. These 38 standards articulate what it means to operate transparently and with the highest integrity.

Our VHA members all aim to exceed industry standards in nonprofit organizational effectiveness, creating a membership of patient organizations that is highly valuable and worthy of public support. Compliance with the standards allows public trust that our members with the largest voice in NHC governance are holding themselves accountable to best nonprofit management practices that should be held by patient advocacy organizations.

Voluntary health agency members must meet all Standards to be in compliance. Compliance is determined through evaluation of responses and analysis of governance documents, such as bylaws, audited financial statements, and annual reports.

Since the onset of the pandemic in March of 2020, the NHC has taken a lighter touch with the Standards program. We did this intentionally to offer our members a little bit of extra room to handle the myriad new challenges they were facing.

As we all begin charting the course of the “new normal,” it is time for the NHC to re-focus attention and technical assistance for members on the Standards certification program. In the next couple of weeks, VHA members will received a communication about the re-launch of SOE certification. The NHC Member Services team has been working on a process that endeavors to make certification simpler, more transparent, and less cumbersome.

If you have any questions, please contact membership@nhcouncil.org.