What Is the CNFSB and What does it Mean to You?
I often hear people refer to the “Council on Foundations National Standards program” or being “certified with National Standards by the Council on Foundations.” There is some confusion out there in the field, but the Community Foundations National Standards Board (CNFSB) accredits community foundations in compliance with the National Standards for US Community Foundations™.
While the lines between the Council and the CFNSB might not be apparent at first, there is an important distinction. The CFNSB is a supporting organization of the Council, which means it is a separate 501(c)(3) organization with its own board of directors, policies, and finances. The Council developed the standards program and had it trademarked the National Standards for US Community Foundations™. However, in 2009 the CFNSB was created to take over the accreditation function. The Council still promotes adherence to the National Standards, provides educational opportunities regarding compliant policies and procedures, and revises and updates the 41 National Standards every five years. The CFNSB administers the accreditation process, makes all compliance decisions, and provides technical assistance to community foundations completing the compliance process. Your accreditation is paid for by your fees to the CFNSB. Council membership criteria and dues are unrelated. CFNSB does not share any of your confidential information with the Council.
But why does the CFNSB look and feel so much like the Council? The CFNSB contracts with the Council for back-office services. The CFNSB has no full-time employees. It contracts with the Council for a certain percentage of the working hours for the Community Foundations Services coordinator and the director of Community Foundations Services (50 percent and 30 percent, respectively). The CFNSB also contracts with the Council for legal services, technological services, office space, and even the lights over our heads. The distinction between the Council and the CFNSB probably does not affect your foundation very much. But hopefully, this information will help you discuss your accreditation, and update your e-mail signatures and your marketing materials with the following language: The Community Foundations National Standards Board accredits community foundations as being in compliance with the National Standards for US Community Foundations™.