Benefits of Accreditation

National Standards accreditation is a commitment to transparency, excellence, stewardship, and leadership. Since 2000, more than 500 community foundations have been accredited and are proudly displaying the seal that denotes their achievement. Accreditation is valid for five years. The ultimate rewards of accreditation and the subsequent reconfirmation are the credibility it brings to community foundations and the confidence it gives donors, professional advisers, and others who seek a qualified, trustworthy philanthropic partner.

There are other benefits as well:

  • Authorization to use the National Standards Seal indicating compliance with the most rigorous standards in philanthropy and guidelines for proper use.
  • National Standards seal featured on accredited community foundations’ GuideStar listings.
  • Access to the updated National Standards Marketing and Communications Toolkit containing news releases, talking points, ads, web content, and letters to donors and advisers—all designed to share the value of National Standards and inform the public of this noteworthy achievement.
  • Access to the Centennial Portfolio announced by Vikki Spruill at the Community Foundations’ Conference. A toolkit that highlights 100 years of community foundations’ work with suggestions for customizing messaging for your community foundation. This resource is a result of collaboration among the Council on Foundations, the Council on Michigan Foundations, and the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation.
  • Bonus points when applying for the HUD Secretary’s Award for Public-Private Partnerships
  • Eligibility for Endow Iowa, a state tax incentive program for National Standards accredited community foundations in Iowa.

In addition, a growing number of outside groups and programs recognize compliance with the National Standards*. For example, membership groups such as the California League of Community Foundations require accreditation as a condition of membership. In addition, state tax incentive programs like Endow Iowa look for National Standards accreditation to confirm eligibility, and awards programs such as the HUD Secretary’s Award for Community Foundations provide bonus points to compliant applicants. As a matter of fact, all 10 winners of the inaugural Secretary’s Award were compliant with National Standards.

Here’s what community foundations are saying about the National Standards:

 “The Community Foundation of West Kentucky has completed a year-long endeavor and has met the rigorous National Standards for U.S. Community Foundations. This is critically important to our donors. When people use the foundation to make a charitable bequest or establish a fund, they do it knowing that we have met national standards for donor services, investment management, grantmaking and administration.”

--Chris Black, board president, Community Foundation of West Kentucky

“We’ve received an incredibly positive response after sharing the news of our National Standards confirmation with our constituents.  At The Oregon Community Foundation we pride ourselves on being open to the public and accountable to our donors. This ‘seal of approval’ makes it official!” 

--Max Williams, president and CEO, The Oregon Community Foundation

*These examples are governed by independent groups and subject to change at any time at the discretion of the administering organization or government body.