Legal Policies & Procedures

Section 1A: Document Review for Legal Compliance 

All community foundations applying for National Standards accreditation must present each of these documents for review.

Articles of Incorporation

Articles of incorporation and/or trust documents that are signed and dated by the appropriate corporate officer, such as a corporate secretary. Please include attachment of the original plus any amendments.

Sample Document

Helpful Tips for Compliance

Bylaws

Bylaws that are signed and dated by the appropriate corporate officer, such as the corporate secretary and include the date of board approval. Please include attachment of the most recent version.

Sample Document

Helpful Tips for Compliance

Board Resolution

Include as an attachment the board resolution for National Standards submission.

Sample Document

Confidentiality Policy

Include the confidentiality policy as an attachment. Make sure to include date of board approval.

Sample Document

Helpful Tips for Compliance

Conflicts of Interest Policy

Conflicts of interest policy along with the date of board approval must be included as an attachment.

Sample Document

Helpful Tips for Compliance

Grantmaking Due Diligence Policy

The grantmaking due diligence policy, including expenditure responsibility, must be attached. Make sure to include date of board approval.

Sample Document

Helpful Tips for Compliance

Financial Statements

You must include your financial statements for the most recent 12 month period. For community foundations with over $5 million in assets, this is your audited financial statements with disclosure notes and management letter by an independent CPA. For community foundations with assets under $5 million, this is your financial statements with disclosure notes reviewed by an independent CPA. If supporting organizations' assets are not included in the audit, you must submit this documentation. Also include date of board approval.

NOTE: If your community foundation has a modified audit because one or more of your supporting organizations' assets are not included in the audit, you must submit additional documentation to pass National Standards. Please see additional information here.

Fund Agreements

You must provide a fund agreement for each type of fund your community foundation offers. This will require multiple attachments. Include the date of board approval.

Affiliate Sample Document

Helpful Tips for Compliance

Agency Endowment Sample Document

Helpful Tips for Compliance

Designated Sample Document

Helpful Tips for Compliance

Donor Advised Fund Sample Document

Helpful Tips for Compliance

Scholarship Sample Document

Helpful Tips for Compliance

Gift Acknowledgment

You must provide a gift acknowledgment for each type of gift. This will require multiple attachments.

Sample Document

IRA Transfer Sample Document

Helpful Tips for Compliance

Form 990

You must provide most recent Form 990 with signature or Form 8879 proof of signature. Include all schedules and attachments, except Schedule B. Also include the date of board approval.

NOTE: The National Standards reviewers often find the following issues on the Form 990.

  1. Fundraising Expenses: The IRS requires community foundations to record fundraising expenses.  Zero fundraising expenses will be a red flag for the IRS and National Standards reviewers.
  2. Sponsoring Organization: In Part V, 8, 9a, and 9b are required to be answered if your community foundation has donor advised funds.  If your community foundation does not hold donor advised funds, please clarify that point.

Gift Acceptance Policy

Attach the gift acceptance policy with the date of board approval.

Sample Document

Helpful Tips for Compliance

Grant Agreements

Attach each type of grant agreement with the date of board approval. Please note, for many applicants there is only one type of grant agreement and that agreement may be in your grant award letter if that letter includes grant conditions and often an evaluation form.

Grant Agreement - No Expenditure Responsibility (Simple): Sample Document

Grant Agreement - Expenditure Responsibility: Sample Document 

Grant Award E-Mail for Electronic Fund Transfer: Sample Document

Grant Award Letter: Sample Document

Scholarship Award Letter: Sample Document

Helpful Tips for Compliance

Investment Policy

Attach the investment policy with the date of board approval.

Sample Document

Helpful Tips for Compliance

IRS Determination Letter

Attach your IRS determination letter. You must show 170(b)(1)(a)(vi).

Nondiscrimination Policy

Attach the nondiscrimination policy with the date of board approval.

Sample Document

Privacy Policy

Attach the privacy policy with the date of board approval.

Sample Document

Record Retention Policy

Attach the record retention policy with the date of board approval

Sample Document

Helpful Tips for Compliance

Spending Policy

Attach the spending policy with the date of board approval.

Sample Document

Helpful Tips for Compliance

Social Media Policy

Attach the social media policy with the date of board approval

NOTE: A social media policy applies to the use of websites and applications that enable users to create and share content or to participate in social networking.

Sample Document

Helpful Tips for Compliance

Whistleblower Policy

Attach the whistleblower policy with the date of board approval

Sample Document

Helpful Tips for Compliance

Section 1B: Document Review for Legal Compliance

While your foundation is not required to undertake the following activities, if it does, please attach the legal documentation that is requested.

If you are concerned about the complexity of any of your legal documents, please contact the National Standards staff at submissions@cfstandards.org to set up a conversation about your questions or concerns.

Donor Advised Fund Guidelines or Policy

Attach the donor advised fund guidelines or policy that reflect the legal regulation of donor advised funds that you share with the donor. Include the date of board approval

Sample Document

Donor Initiated Fundraising Policy

Attach the donor initiated fundraising policy with the date it was adopted

Sample Document

Helpful Tips for Compliance

Fiscal Sponsorship Agreement

Attach the fiscal sponsorship agreement with the date of board approval.

Sample Document

Fiscal Agency v. Fiscal Sponsorship

Fiscal Agency Agreement

Attach the fiscal agency agreement with the date of board approval.

Fiscal Agency v. Fiscal Sponsorship

Scholarship Policy

Attach the Scholarship Policy with the date of board approval

Sample Document

Helpful Tips for Compliance

Does your community foundation observe reasonable protections for scholarship applicant information?

Notes:

The field has moved away from collecting social secutiry numbers of students and asking for parental/household financial information beyond the FAFSA or a simliar student aid report.

Think about whether you have a thoughtful process for how you keep student and parent information confidential as you distribute information to the scholarship committee, collect that information back, and store it.

Nondisclosure rules can vary from state to state. If your state requires more, you must go beyond the foundation's privacy/confidentiality policy and record retention policies.

  • Yes
  • No
  • Not applicable, the foundation does not offer scholarships.

Section 1C: Document Review for Legal Compliance

Stress Test for the Board's Legal and Fiduciary Control

The National Standards Board lauds community foundations for their ability to be innovative with their business models. The following questions represent business model trends for community foundations: as a result, the review is more subjective than in other areas of the submission.

This section is not meant to determine whether your community foundation has not met National Standards just by answering the question affirmatively. However, we understand there is additional legal due diligence required with these activities.

This section may require further information or a call with the National Standards Director and legal review team so that there is a clear understanding of your work and your leadership in the field.

This area may be revised over time to reflect new trends and to understand how our field is taking a leadership role and adjusting to those trends.

Supporting Organizations

Are you a named supported foundation of any Supporting Organizations?

  • If Type 1, show evidence that you select their board.
  • If Type 2, show evidence of common board members.
  • If Type 3, show IRS filing of Type 3.
  • Not applicable.
  • If yes to any, please provide evidence requested.

Sample Document

Management of Assets

Do you hold or manage any assets in a form other than a component fund? In other words, do you manage assets that you don't own? For example do you mange assets as a broker/dealer for agency funds that came to the foundation as a transfer rather than a gift to a fund?

  • Yes and we regularly review and comply with federal, state, and local law.
  • No.
  • If yes, please provide documentation supporting how your community foundation reviews legal compliance of this activity and makes decisions about how to engage in this activity.

Insurance Regulations

Does your foundation comply with state insurance regulations for charitable gift annuities?

  • Yes.
  • No.
  • Not applicable, we do not offer charitable gift annuities.