Excellent NPO

Based on specific problems identified by analyzing Japan's nonprofit sector today and with reference to the basic arguments about nonprofit organizations, this tool, Excellent NPO, was created in the hope of fostering an environment within civil society where the three basic conditions for a “model nonprofit” might work together: public participation, social change and organizational stability.

JapanThe People's Conference Aimed at Encouraging Excellent NPOs

This tool emerged from discussions of the Investigative Committee on NPO Evaluation Criteria, the organization that preceded the People's Conference. With the surge in the number of nonprofit organizations working on various issues, these discussions were based on concern over the danger that many of these groups might be losing sight of their original purpose of playing a lead role in civil society, as well as their function as receptacles for people wishing to volunteer to help tackle social problems or contribute to society in some way.

This tool was developed over two years based on international comparative analyses of the nonprofit sector as a whole, donating and volunteering, case studies on government and nonprofits, and empirical analyses in fields such as legislation. It was prepared after conducting a review of the principles of nonprofit organizations in civil society and considering the opinions and actual experiences of the members of the Investigative Committee.

To promote the movement for “Excellent NPOs,” the organization also hosts training courses throughout the country and presents an annual Excellent NPO Award.

Target / Intended users

Nonprofit organizations

Sections / components
  1. Public Participation (Evaluation perspective: participation and development)
    (A. Volunteering, B. Donating, C. Awareness)
  2. Social Change (Evaluation perspective: problem solving)
    (A. Understanding of issues, B. Methods, C. Capacity, D. Feedback, E. Advocacy, and F. Autonomy)
  3. Organizational Capacity (Evaluation perspective: sustainable development)
    A. Governance, B. Income diversity and regulations, C. Human resource development)

The three conditions that must be fulfilled to become an “Excellent NPO” as mentioned above are not just factors that interact with each other in a triangular relationship with social change at its apex. They also correspond with these three problems that Japan’s nonprofit sector is struggling with:

  1. A weak link between nonprofits and the public.
  2. 2. Doubts (today) about the ability of nonprofits and NGOs to resolve the issues they were originally expected to be able to deal with.
  3. The question of how to build organizations and activities that are sustainable.

Three Basic Conditions:

  • Social Change: Problem-solving?the ability to keep social systems in mind when tackling social problems, and to raise awareness of these systems over a wide area.
  • Public Participation: Donations, volunteers, and awareness?the capacity to provide citizens with opportunities for participation, awareness of social issues, and the pleasure of working to resolve such issues, and consciousness of the need to offer citizens a place to grow.
  • Organizational Capacity: Sustainable development?the capacity for reliability, which is required due to the need for long-term engagement with issues that are difficult to resolve, and in order to gain participation by a wide range of people.
Check sheet availability


Excellent NPO self-check sheet : PDF


Self-check online version (in Japanese)

Simple, introductory version with 10 items for a full score of 27 points that allows organizations to check their strengths and weaknesses.

Issue certification?


Supporting the organization’s philosophy of improving quality in the nonprofit sector, groups hoping to become “Excellent NPOs” must complete a beginner-level self-assessment check list, the results of which are sent to the People's Conference. After approval by the Board of Directors, a “Proof of Verification” certificate is sent back to them.

An award is presented each year in collaboration with The Mainichi Newspapers. Based on the Excellent NPO criteria, groups complete and submit a self-evaluation. The review committee uses these same criteria to examine the application, the result of which it then shares with the group.

Evaluation method

These are basic evaluation criteria consisting of 33 items in 12 fields. The self-check sheet that accompanies this is a beginner-level self-assessment tool with a three-grade evaluation (ABC) in response to 29 items.

Tool creation date

November 2010 by The People's Conference Aimed at Encouraging Excellent NPOs


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