Achieving National Standards Compliance
The National Standards team is no longer accepting paper submissions or statements of agreement. Starting in 2015, all applications and renewals will be done online. Whether you are applying for the first time or renewing your accreditation, you will use the online accreditation application (not the re-accreditation application). This is because we need all of your application documents in electronic files rather than paper files that you previously provided. The good news is that after the first application, renewal applications will only require information your community foundation has revised or responses to change in law/National Standards.
To qualify for National Standards, your community foundation must be:
- 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.
- In good standing with federal and state regulators.
- Meet the National Standards definition of a community foundation as stated in National Standard 1.
Before you Apply
- Keep in mind, preparing your application for National Standards can take between a few weeks and a few months.
- Discuss the value of National Standards accreditation with your executive committee and board to make sure your community foundation has support as you undergo the process.
- To assist you with building a timeline, look through the accreditation requirements and make a list of items that will need board approval. It is a good idea to start with the legal section for this list.
- If you are already accredited with National Standards, know your accreditation expiration date. If you don’t know your accreditation date, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- For your first online submission, we suggest submitting between eight and twelve months before accreditation expires.
- For your annual online renewal, you must submit at least 90 days before your accreditation expires.
How to Apply
- Visit our application website to start the online process.
- Create an account using the Signup form. You can only have one account per community foundation.
- Fill out the application. You can save your draft as you go. If multiple staff members are logging into the application, make sure only one person is in the application at a time, or your work may not save.
- Once you complete the application and review your work, you may submit. Keep in mind this process is rigorous and can take from a few weeks to a few months. You may print a copy of your application while you work on it or when it is final.
- After you submit the application, you will receive an email confirming your application and providing payment instructions.
- Your first online submission costs $1,250, annual renewal costs $1,000. Please make payment by sending a check payable to:
Community Foundations National Standards Board
2121 Crystal Drive, Suite 700
Arlington, VA 22202
The Review Process
- Once payment is received, peer and legal reviewers will go through your application. This process can take several months depending on volume.
- The National Standards Director will compile their comments and email them to the community foundation email used to set up the National Standards account. The majority of applications will require supplemental materials.
- Review the comments and respond to the request for supplemental materials. Provide your response within 30 days or after your next board meeting if your materials require board approval.
- This process of responding to comments from reviewers can happen more than once.
- If supplemental materials are requested more than three times, the National Standards Director will require a call with the community foundation to discuss outstanding issues before the fourth submission of materials.
- Once all National Standards are met, the community foundation receives an email that they are accredited.
- The accreditation email has a link to the National Standards licensing agreement that must be signed online.
- The National Standards Seal and the Marketing Toolkit make it easy for you to share your community foundation’s achievement with your community.
- Your annual renewal application opens after your receive your accreditation notice. This means you can update your renewal application as your community foundation changes policies and procedures throughout the year.
- Submit your annual renewal no less than 90 days before your accreditation expires.