The Panel on the Nonprofit Sector has released a new publication entitled “Principles for Good Governance and Ethical Practice: A Guide for Charities and Foundations”.

The Guide outlines 33 principles that, according to the Panel, are “designed to support board members and staff leaders of every charitable organization as they work to improve their own operations.” The 33 principles are organized into four categories:

1. Legal Compliance and Public Disclosure (principles 1-7). Includes responsibilities and practices, such as implementing conflict of interest and whistleblower policies, and providing information to the public.

2. Effective Governance (principles 8-20). Policies and procedures suggested for a board of directors to implement "to fulfill its oversight and governance responsibilities effectively."

3. Strong Financial Oversight (principles 21-26). Policies and procedures suggested for an organization "to ensure wise stewardship of charitable resources."

4. Responsible Fundraising (principles 27-33). Policies and procedures suggested for organizations that solicit funds from the public "to build donor support and confidence."

The Panel is a group of nonprofit industry leaders formed at the encouragement of the Senate Finance Committee. The Panel has previously prepared numerous recommendations for Congress to increase the oversight and governance of charitable organizations in a Final Report and Supplemental Report. Many of the changes Congress and the IRS have recently enacted/contemplated, including many of the IRS Form 990 changes, were previously recommended by the Panel. Thus, while the Guide is not legally binding, the Principles should be carefully considered as industry standards and as helpful assistance to nonprofit governance.