MSA Knowledge Standards are the essential source of knowledge you need to achieve success.

The MSA Knowledge Standards highlight the core knowledge, skills and abilities needed to perform the daily responsibilities of a nonprofit retail professional. Knowledge Standards are the basis for all of MSA’s learning initiatives, including educational sessions at our annual MSA FORWARD Conference & Expo, webinars, and Museum Store magazine articles.

Knowledge Standards were developed by a task force of qualified and experienced nonprofit retail professionals whose goal was to give MSA members an essential source for the knowledge and tools needed to achieve business success. By participating in programs based on Knowledge Standards, members increase their credibility as a business resource and make their stores a valuable asset within their institutions.

Knowledge Standards are a comprehensive summary of what nonprofit retail professionals need to know. They are more than a list of responsibilities. They help you validate your current position, guide your institution’s understanding of a nonprofit retail enterprise and serve as a road map to your professional growth.

Here are the eight Knowledge Standards with brief descriptions.

Merchandise Planning

Creating a plan for the purchase, development and display of merchandise.

Customer Relations

Management of the interactions between the customer and the nonprofit retail team.


The ongoing management of the store and its related sales outlets.

Financial Management

A comprehensive system of controlling, measuring and maximizing fiscal performance.

Human Resources

Skillful management of personnel, both paid staff and volunteers.


The exchange of information for successful outreach to all audiences.

Business Relations

Development of relationships that enable a successful nonprofit enterprise that financially supports the institutions mission.

Strategic Management

Planning, development and implementation of strategies that ensure long-term business success.

Member Access

Become an MSA member for access to the complete Knowledge Standards content. Members can access online content that earns certificate credits and utilize MSA’s online community to connect with other members on this learning journey.

More Information

Information about MSA’s certificate program is available here. If you have questions, please email us.