Director’s Order and Reference Manual 32: Cooperating Associations

What It Is

Directors Order 32: Cooperating Association provides guidance to NPS managers and staff who work in partnership with Associations and helps to define the roles of the two organizations in order to strengthen mission alignment and clarify the responsibilities of each organization.

Reference Manual 32: Cooperating Associations is intended to provide guidance to National Park Service and Cooperating Association personnel as they work together to develop and nurture the most effective partnership possible. The hallmark of this enduring partnership is a shared vision, and it is most successful when founded on trust, open communication, and mutual respect.

Reference Manual 32 Appendix includes templates, examples, and other materials supplement NPS policy, guidance, and procedures for working with cooperating associations

Why It Matters

For the purposes of DO/RM 32, an Association is defined as a private nonprofit 501(c)(3) corporation established under State law, with which the NPS has a signed standard Cooperating Association Agreement. The DO/RM are intended to provide guidance for those activities performed under a signed standard Agreement. A nonprofit organization may perform other functions to support the NPS, such as fundraising or operating an environmental education center when authorized by a separate appropriate legal instrument

In accordance with the NPS Directives System, described in Director’s Order #1 (DO-1), the reference manual supports collaboration between NPS and Cooperating Association personnel for the benefit of park visitors and the public at large. It consists of information to explain and facilitate implementation of Director’s Order #32 (DO-32) Cooperating Associations.

These documents contain information on the following topics:

  • Purpose and Objectives of Cooperating Associations
  • Authorities
  • Standard Cooperating Association Agreement
  • Responsibilities
  • Planning
  • Promoting A Sustainable Business Environment
  • Interpretive Sales Activities
  • Interpretive Services Activities
  • Facilities and Equipment
  • Administrative Requirements
  • Fundraising and Donation Acceptance by Cooperating Associations and Aid to the NPS
  • Other Nonprofit Activities

For help in this process, please reach out to your regional coordinator.

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