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.

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.

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. To date InterAction members have gone through six 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.