Why do we maintain our Excellence in Action (EIA) certification? Because the families and children we serve deserve the best we can give them! In 2011, Community Care Network became one of the first four agencies in Mississippi to receive EIA Certification. As the founder of a small but expanding nonprofit on the coast, I knew that achieving this certification and adopting the Principles and Standards for Nonprofit and Philanthropy Excellence© would help us to strengthen and expand our organization and programs and benefit our communities. We have tripled our budget, staff, and the number of families we serve, and I believe the best practices adopted after receiving EIA certification continue to be a significant factor. We now have new Board of Directors members and new key staff members, and even though we don’t need to recertify until next year, we have chosen to attend the upcoming Boot Camp.
Why? Because our staff and Board members need the best information available to sustain our organization. That is what they will receive at the EIA training. I would highly recommend this training and certification for all nonprofits, whether new or more experienced. Our sector is constantly evolving, and we must learn all we can to serve our clients with Excellence!
Last month, we at the Emmett Till Memorial Commission requested a custom Excellence in Action training with the Mississippi Alliance of Nonprofits and Philanthropy—a training just for our executive board and director-level staff. The custom training was invaluable for us at this time when our organization has achieved one of its primary goals—the restoration of the Tallahatchie County Courthouse, the site of the trial of two of Emmett Till’s murderers—and is now looking to its next chapter.
The trainers went above and beyond, providing us with feedback on our organization’s documents, policies, and practices, as well as detailed recommendations for moving forward, including sample verbiage and draft policies. The training clarified the division of responsibilities between board members and staff, including spelling out the three duties of all board members with clear examples. They offered guidance on best practices regarding financial management, ethical fundraising, and board and staff performance evaluation. The custom training also allotted time for all board members and staff to practice reading and interpreting our monthly financial statements and tax documents, a skill that will continue to pay off.
We ended the training with a list of tangible, achievable improvements to the functioning of our organization. In conjunction with completing the EIA certification checklist, these improvements will ensure that we are legally compliant and utilizing best practices. When the training concluded, it was evident how valuable the EIA training would be for all of our board members as an orientation to their roles as Directors of the Emmett Till Memorial Commission. We highly recommend the EIA certification process for all nonprofits.
Patrick Weems, Executive Director Emmett Till Memorial Commission
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