Arkansas Diamond Standards™

Evaluations, Checklist, and Workbook

Individuals do not start nonprofits out of a desire to run a business, but rather out of a desire to “do good.” However, running a nonprofit is running a business. The Arkansas Diamond Standards™ are a set of principles and practices that guide nonprofits to excellence in four areas: Mission, Money, Management and Governance. Created in 2003 by Arkansas Nonprofit Alliance founder, Jim Harris, the Standards are based on the Principles and Practices followed by 18 other state nonprofit associations in the United States. These standards will help your organization implement best practices that will allow it to run legally, efficiently, and effectively, giving you time to focus on what you really care about- serving your community.

  • Arkansas Diamonds Standards Workbook.pdf Arkansas Diamond Standards Booklet(TM) provides an overview of best practices for your nonprofit.
  • The Diamond Standards Assessment Tools are sets of questions regarding the performance of a nonprofit, and best management practices. You can assess your organization’s strengths and weaknesses, and identify steps to excellence by using through this assessment.

Click each link below to download the Assessment Tools:

(The Arkansas Nonprofit Alliance was formerly the Arkansas Coalition for Excellence and appears as such on these documents.)

Arkansas Diamond Standards™
Four Key Focus Areas


All authorities emphasize the critical importance of clearly articulating the organization’s alignment of planning and strategy with programs, public communication and accountability. Along with the vision, mission and core values, these should uphold a culture of openness and disclosure which helps assure fidelity to the public trust and the organizational Mission.


To achieve the mission, adequate financial resources must be developed, managed, protected, and deployed, all in compliance with the law. Financial development activities must exhibit the highest ethical standards, employing honest, accurate information about the organization, honoring donor intent, and respecting donor privacy. Sound financial management requires the Board to approve realistic budgets, monitor financial performance, establish proper accounting controls, and engage independent review of its financial statements. Financial protection uses a risk management process that eliminates unnecessary risks, employs loss prevention programs, and provides for appropriate insurance coverage. The Board understands its fiduciary duties and monitors the organization’s legal compliance, by adhering to all applicable laws and regulations.


This view of management emphasizes applying internal processes to transform human, information and organizational capital into both program and financial results. In managing its human capital, the organization has systems for recruiting, training and managing employees and leveraging its human resources with volunteers. Information capital includes information systems and computer technologies that support management and enhance communications. Organizational capital includes collaboration that eliminates duplication and creates efficiency and synergy, as well as Innovation processes, which drive the quest for continuous learning and quality improvement.


Effective governing boards are needed to set policy and provide oversight of management and money to assure fidelity to the mission. The Board-CEO Relationship requires the Board to hire and supervise the CEO, who in turn is responsible for managing all other staff. Board composition and structure of its committees should be carefully designed to create independence and to facilitate the work of the Board. The Board functions through its meetings and processes which should be sufficient to fulfill its roles and responsibilities. The Board’s role of governance should be clearly defined and distinct from the management role of the CEO.


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