Membership Standards

A dynamic and creative nongovernmental, nonprofit sector depends upon the public’s confidence in the efficacy of its programs, and in the integrity of the individuals and organizations comprising the sector. Program quality and individual and organizational integrity are ultimately the responsibility of each individual organization, its board, staff and constituents. However, umbrella groups that represent communities of interest within the nonprofit sector also have a significant leadership role to play in building the public trust by clearly defining high standards of governance, management and programs to guide its members, and by developing appropriate mechanisms to ensure accountability.

Experience confirms that the action of one nonprofit with even an appearance of impropriety hurts the whole sector by undermining public confidence. A collective commitment to quality and integrity by coalitions like InterAction is an essential dimension of the overall process of maintaining and enhancing the public trust.

PVO Standards History

Beginning in 1989, in response to membership demand, InterAction began developing its Private Voluntary Organization (PVO) Standards. Developed over a three-year period through member working group participation, these standards are a set of ethical guidelines covering private voluntary organization (PVO) governance, financial reporting, fundraising, public relations, management practice, human resources and program services. Over the years, the standards have been reviewed, updated and added to by InterAction working groups and they continue to reflect best practices in the sector.

The PVO Standards are managed and enforced by the Membership and Standards Committee of the InterAction Board of Directors. Noncompliance with the standards can result in suspension of a member or denial of a membership application.

Raising the Bar

By consulting accepted standards of governance and business management, such as those of the Better Business Bureau, and building upon best practices of our member organizations, InterAction PVO Standards go beyond basic business practice guidelines to set standards of accountability that reflect the broad impact and the complexity of members’ work around the world.

InterAction remains one of the few international humanitarian and development NGO networks that have standards, rather than guidelines, and a standards compliance process, raising the bar for similar NGO associations both within the United States and around the globe.

Assistance and Compliance

As a voluntary association, InterAction’s PVO Standards derive their weight and credibility from the collective commitment of the membership. The standards are not to be understood as supplanting the need for each individual member organization to manage its affairs with a concern for matters of program quality and individual and organizational integrity; rather, they are intended to complement the commitment of every member organization.

The PVO Standards FAQ , as well as the PVO Standards Guidance documents will answer most questions that arise about the standards. InterAction staff remain available to provide technical support for any member organization seeking to improve its accountability and compliance with the standards.

Since 2006, members have been required to participate every two years in a compliance process called Self-Certification Plus (SCP), which provides a mechanism for organizational examination of its own accountability structures and a thorough review and certification of compliance with InterAction’s PVO Standards.

InterAction members successfully completed their mandatory biennial compliance with InterAction PVO Standards through Self-Certification-Plus exercise by December 31, 2014. To date InterAction members have gone through five mandatory self-certification processes, each one building on the previous year’s processes while strengthening and increasing their capacity to meet compliance.

This rigorous self -certification process evaluates a member's compliance with standards in areas of governance and administration; program standards and organizational commitment standards.  It provides an opportunity for dialogue between an organization’s senior staff and its board and also affords members an opportunity to review their organizational practices, update and revise existing policies and draft new ones where they are missing, all with the end of improving their organizational effectiveness and accountability.

In 2016, InterAction members are facing another mandatory standards compliance process through SCP. The SCP process was mandated by InterAction’s Board of Directors at the request of our membership and all InterAction members must self-certify compliance with InterAction PVO Standards every two years.

The 2016 Self-Certification Plus Compliance Form must be submitted to InterAction by each member organization no later than December 31, 2016. The compliance process is mandatory for all InterAction members every other year and noncompliance will result in suspension from InterAction membership.

Associate members must adhere to InterAction PVO Standards as specified in the Associate Member Supplement

Questions about standards and accountability should be directed to Kristin Sadler in the Membership and Standards Office.