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At Peak Performance the organization is mature, with programs and fundraising functioning at a high levels. Founders have rotated-off the board of directors, and the board is diverse. Administrative systems are well-developed. The focus overall is on increasing quality, scale, and impact. The organization is collaborative and recognized as a community and sector-wide leader.

BEWARE: “Founders syndrome” may be a factor, the results of which may be stagnation, complacency, and disconnectivity.


Standards for Excellence Guiding Principles

Characteristics and Priorities

Maryland Nonprofits' Resources

Mission, Strategy and Evaluation

  • Use strategic plan as a guide.
  • Focus on increasing impact and performance; put strong programs in place.
  • Implement evaluation and metrics for all programs. 
  • Collaborate with other organizations. 
  •  Standards for Excellence Packet: Strategic Partnerships
  •  Standards for Excellence Packet: Program Evaluation
  • Resource: Our Consultants
  •  Data Dashboard Sample

Leadership: Board, Staff and Volunteers

  • Board may be a governing board, and founders may have rotated off. 
  • Professionalize Executive leadership.
  • Prioritize building a learning organization.
  • Focus on recruitment and retention of talent.
  • Board and CEO set clear performance goals and evaluate performance. Add 360 Evaluation to the process.
  • Hire program managers; increase diversity of staff, first staff firing may occur.
  •  Resource: Executive Director Evaluation Tool
  •  Standards for Excellence Packet: Cultural Competency
  •  Standards for Excellence Packet: Succession Planning
  •  Standards for Excellence Packet: Board Member Responsibilities
  •  Standards for Excellence Packet: Board and Executive Partnership

Legal Compliance and Ethics

  • Programmatic compliance may be more complex; may add professional compliance office. 
  • File for property tax exemption.
  • Register for Maryland State charitable solicitation.
  • Register lobbyist(s) - if applicable.
  •  Standards for Excellence Packet: Legal Requirements Checklist
  •  Standards for Excellence Packet: Developing a Code of Ethics

Finance and Operations

  • Create well-developed policies and procedures.
  • Hire multiple support staff.
  • Revamp hardware and software programs.
  • May purchase or renovate property.
  • Annual audit (if greater than $500,000 in revenue).
  •  Standards for Excellence Packet: Risk Management and Insurance
  •  Resource: Sample Data Dashboard
  •  Resource: Sample RFP for Audit
  •  Standards for Excellence Packet: Administrative Policies
  • Resource: Nonprofit Service Providers Databank

Resource Development

  • Organization size may be at its peak.
  • Establish a self-perpetuating volunteer structure; volunteer coordinator may be hired.
  • Establish stable funding and the development of an operating reserve. 
  • Explore new and expanded funding sources; a fundraiser position may be added.
  • Consulting on Fundraising - Capital Campaigns
  •  Standards for Excellence Packet: Fundraising, Solicitation, Acceptance of Gifts, and Working with Donors
  •  Standards for Excellence Packet: Resource Development Planning and Source of Income

Public Awareness, Engagement and Advocacy

  • Organization plays leadership role in field and community.
  • Lead or participate in coalitions.
  • May focus on advocacy and systemic change.
  • Create sophisticated marketing efforts, professional image, and developed marketing plan.
  • Organization may expand beyond word of mouth promotion.


Better governance and management practices allow you to focus on meeting your mission, strengthen fundraising, improve decision-making, prepare for transition, minimize risk, and engage your board. Learn more about the Standards for Excellence Code - and embark on your organization's path to Excellence.

To see resources for other stages or to return to the Nonprofit Lifecycle home page, click below:



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