National Standards for U.S. Community Foundations

National Standards for U.S. Community FoundationsTM accreditation represents operational effectiveness to foster excellence in community philanthropy.

We do this in two ways:

1. We create standards for operationally and legally sound community foundations.
We lead community foundation staff and boards through the process of achieving operational excellence.

2. With confidence in their operations, community foundations can innovate and take risks necessary to solve complex social problems.

 

To qualify for National Standards, your community foundation must be:

1. Recognized by the IRS under Code sections 501(c)(3), 509(a)(1), and 170(b)(1)(a)(vi). This information tells us that your community foundation is organized and operated exclusively for charitable purposes and is a publicly supported charity.

2. In good standing with federal and state regulators.

3. Meet the National Standards definition of a community foundation as stated in National Standard 1.

 

National Standards Revisions - Frequently Asked Questions

· Do I have to be a COF member to be involved with National Standards? No, the two are separate. However, there are distinct benefits for each. The National Standards accreditation provides great staff and board training and some sample documents. The Council provides in depth resources such as board job descriptions and training on how to engage in different forms of community leadership such as impact investing, becoming an anchor institution (place maker), and setting up disaster philanthropy in your community. Further, while the National Standards team answers some legal questions about your sample documents, the Council's legal team answers questions about interactions with donors, questions of how to use variance power, implementing scholarship programs, and so much more. These resources are unique Council membership benefits.

· My accreditation doesn't expire until 2016, 2017, 2018, or 2019, do I need to start applying annually this year? No. Your current accreditation was not revoked. You maintain your current accreditation through its expiration date. Our goal is to have you submit your first online accreditation 8-12 months before your accreditation expires to ensure we complete your review before accreditation expires. After your first online application, your annual application is due 90 days before your accreditation expires. We expect you will have less information to review year over year so we shorten the timeline for submission and review.

· Will I get a notification about accreditation expiring? Yes! Community foundations with accreditation expiring in 2015 and 2016 have received emails about how to being the online process. 2017 emails will go out before the end of 2015 because we understand that it takes time to plan and put a submission together. Also, once you have received accreditation through the online system, the system is set up to send reminders to update the online system throughout the year. It is also set to remind you about the 90 days deadline. If you believe you should have received an email and have not received it, please contact submissions@cfstandards.org.

· Can my community foundation create more than one login for our application? No. Your community foundation application is unique to the username and password that you create. We will not be able to merge applications. Please note that you can share the username and password among your team, however only one team member can be in the application and making changes at one time. If more than one person is in the application making changes, both sets of changes will not save (similar to having multiple people in a Word document on the share drive at one time).

· Where do I find the board resolution? Here is the board resolution.

· Do I need to submit information to say the community foundation intends to complete the process? No, you do not. You can just begin the application by creating a username and password.