Value of National Standards

National Standards is for you!

The National Standards program was established to ensure the values of community foundations are demonstrated through their commitment to legal compliance, philanthropic best practices and excellence that benefits communities.

By accrediting your foundation, you enjoy benefits such as:

  • Unlimited use of high quality, vetted sample policies and procedures specifically tailored to community foundations.
  • An incentive to attract serious board members assured that your foundation is stable and legally sound.
  • Resources for staff training and transition because policies are in place and well documented.
  • Some states provide incentives to accredited community foundations through tax credits and eligibility for managing state resources. See more about Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, and California.
  • The National Standards Seal and the Marketing Toolkit make it easy for you to share your community foundation’s achievement with your community.

National Standards works!

  • Evidence of ExcellenceThe dollars set aside for charity are limited and precious. The institutions that donors choose to support must be credible and trustworthy. As a symbol of excellence and rigor, the National Standards Seal helps philanthropists and their professional advisers recognize and choose community foundations as a sound place to give and make a difference.
  • AccountabilityCommunity foundations of all sizes use National Standards as a roadmap to establish legal, ethical, effective practices that withstand the scrutiny of donors, government and media. Over time, National Standards have become an important resource for developing new and emerging community foundations. With National Standards as a base, community foundations establish high levels of operational integrity, separating themselves from the potential mistakes or wrongdoing of other entities. Community foundations also use National Standards to promote self-regulation in a manner viewed positively by the Internal Revenue Service, which has increased its scrutiny of charities, especially those offering donor-advised funds.
  • ImpactNational Standards set consistent expectations among community foundation boards and practitioners, helping them focus and make effective use of time and talent. They also provide a framework for documenting, communicating and providing training and technical assistance to advance best practices.
  • DistinctionCommunity foundations use National Standards to distinguish themselves from entities that provide similar services. When community foundations work together regionally or nationally to build awareness of their unique value, standards reduce the risk of doing so by ensuring all participants have met benchmarks for quality in operations and service.

We know the process is rigorous and can be time consuming but your peers see the value.

“It is so helpful to have the support of someone who has personally gone through certification from a community foundation’s point of view. Your help was invaluable and your encouragement was greatly appreciated.”
Peg Hamilton, Executive Director, Community Foundation of Greater Rochester
"National Standards provides a transparent validation of the high value community foundations provide individually and collectively for our communities nationwide."
Eric Anderson, Director of Stewardship, The Minneapolis Foundation
"We at NCCF participate in National Standards because we see the value in being recognized for going above and beyond what the law requires of us and to demonstrate that we are a responsive, responsible community resource. The National Standards seal indicates that we are serious about the pursuit of excellence; that we can demonstrate accountability and our impact on the community. This makes us distinct from other foundations and nonprofits."
Jennifer Tolle Whiteside, President and CEO, North Carolina Community Foundation
"National Standards has upped our game in every way. They provide a playbook for baseline legal compliance and operational excellence. Our certification of compliance with them has given us the confidence that our Community Foundation meets and even exceeds what the industry demands from its members."
Eileen Ellsworth, President, The Community Foundation for Northern Virginia
"Our participation in the National Standards Program is an important way for our Community Foundation to remain "Best in Class" in those policies and procedures which undergird our commitment to full and complete transparency and accountability to our donors and the communities we have served for the past 74 years. That trust and confidence is of paramount importance to the fulfillment of our mission, and clearly distinguishes our organization as a leader in the philanthropic field."
Jim Williamson, President, Community Foundation of Greater New Britain
"National Standards is more than a set of legal guidelines that must be met; it recognizes the commitment we have made to operational excellence. It articulates to our donors, community partners, staff and board our commitment to sound policies and accountability that ultimately better positions us to promote philanthropy, connect donors to causes they care about and provide leadership on important community issues. It’s a set of high standards that we are proud to uphold on behalf of our community!"
Angela Dethlefs-Trettin, Vice President of Community Investment & Initiatives, Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines