Membership Application for Voluntary Health Agencies

Created by and for patient organizations 100 years ago, the National Health Council (NHC) brings diverse organizations together to forge consensus and drive patient-centered health policy. We promote increased access to affordable, high-value, sustainable health care. Made up of more than 140 national health-related organizations and businesses, the NHC’s core membership includes the nation’s leading patient organizations, referred to as voluntary health organizations.  

Voluntary health agencies (VHAs) form the core of NHC’s governance structure as the patient perspective is central to all we do. Additional key membership categories that help support the NHC’s mission include health-related associations and nonprofit organizations including the provider, research, and family caregiver communities; and businesses representing biopharmaceutical, device, diagnostic, generic drug, and payer organizations.  

VHAs are defined as 501(c)(3) organizations composed of individuals, both lay and professional, or of associations of both lay and professional individuals, voluntarily and democratically organized. Their mission is to combat a particular disease, disability, or group of diseases and disabilities, or to improve and protect the health of a particular group of people. They receive a substantial amount of financial support from voluntary contributions from the public at large. They engage in programs, such as research, education, advocacy, and service to individuals and communities.

The NHC requires that its member voluntary health organizations (VHAs) comply with the Standards of Excellence Certification Program®. 

These standards represent the highest bar of transparency and accountability in the sector. By adhering to these standards, NHC and its members are able to represent the experience of patients and caregivers and be respected as experts and understood to operate with integrity.

The 38 Standards cover the areas of governance, human resources, programs, fundraising, finance, accounting and reporting, and evaluation. In addition, there are 11 minimum Standards that all patient advocacy organizations must meet before they can apply for membership. The chart below can be used as a guide to determine which of the 11 minimum standards your organization meets upon submission of this application. NHC encourages potential members who do not believe they have met these minimum standards to move forward with the application. Staff will provide guidance as needed to bring the membership application into compliance.

* Organizations that lack a gift acceptance policy can be accepted, provided that they commit to adopt such a policy within 6 months of approval.

Please tell us more about your organization so we can work together to put patients first: