National Standards 2021 Review Committee Process
The purpose of the National Standards for U.S. Community Foundations Review Committee is to assess each of the 26 National Standards and determine the weight and value of the evidence currently requested, pain points for applicants, areas of potential clarification, as well as each Standard’s contemporary relevance to the field. This process is not intended to overhaul National Standards, rather to refine existing standards.
The 2021 volunteer committee members were assigned a set of standards based on the volunteer’s interest in the following categories:
- Mission, Structure, and Governance (Standards 1-9)
- Resource Development, and Stewardship and Accountability (Standards 10-17)
- Grantmaking, and Community and Donor Engagement (Standards 18-26)
Once assigned, committee members independently assessed the assigned standards in a survey, aided by notes from National Standards staff and reviewers. Committee members then met with their respective sub-committee to discuss each of the standards within that category and determine proposed changes or adjustments. Once each sub-committee met, the full committee will convened to discuss findings and formalize recommendations to the board with a vote. These proposed changes were then presented to the CFNSB during a November 9 board meeting, at which time they were approved.
The CNFSB Board and Staff wish to thank the numerous people who contributed to this review process, from those who provided input through survey, to those who spent numerous hours in committee sessions developing recommendations.
Sharon Bisher – CFNSB Vice President, Review Committee Co-Chair, Facilitator Group 2, Final Group
Sandi Roehrig – CFNSB Director, Review Committee Co-Chair, Facilitator Group 1
Susie Nelson – CFNSB President, Facilitator Group 3
Kevin van Bronkhorst - Director, National Standards
Sheryl Aikman - Interim Executive Director, National Standards
Stephanie Audain - Associate, National Standards
CFNSB Volunteer Committee Process
Stephanie Marcus – The Miami Foundation
Julianne Buck – Community Foundation of Grundy County
Kaye Englin – Community Foundation of Northeast Iowa
Lori O’Keefe – Triangle Community Foundation
Beth Harper Briglia – Chester County Community Foundation
Kristi Knous – Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines
Katelyn Videto – Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation
Wyatt Jackson – Community Foundation of Southern Wisconsin
Joe Sorenson – Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines
Heather Diehl – San Antonio Area Foundation
Carol Bradford Worley - California Community Foundation
James Becker - Richmond Community Foundation
Melissa DeLaet – Greater Grand Island Community Foundation
Jamie Leza – Community Foundation of Greater Muscatine
Julie Klipp – Community Foundation of Western North Carolina
Zosia Eppensteiner – Community Foundation of Marquette County
William Rhodehamel – Hendricks County Community Foundation
Hadley Streng – Grand Haven Area Community Foundation
CFNSB Reviewer Committee Process
Andy Stamm – Facilitator of Reviewer Group, Legal Reviewer
Robin Foreman-Wheeler – CFNSB Director
Nick Williams -CFNSB Director
Ralph Serpe – CFNSB Director
Mark Montoya – CFNSB Director
Peter Dunn – CFNSB Director, Legal Reviewer
Eula Tatman – Peer Reviewer
Jenna Manders – Peer Reviewer
Sally Cross – Peer Reviewer
Christy Tustin – Peer Reviewer
Sandy Daniels – Peer Reviewer
Listed below are all of the approved recommendations made by the CFNSB Review Committee.
Implementation Note: The majority of the changes listed below will not appear on assessments scheduled prior to a July 15, 2022 submission date. These include the majority of items marked ‘Q’. Other items that require a simple clarification or rewording will be immediately applied.
C = The committee recommends clarification within assessment/relevant materials. Upon approval, the assessment will be edited to include these changes.
Q = The committee recommends requiring additional questions/evidence. Upon approval, these items will be included in future assessments. Specific questions are in italics with options in parentheses.
R = The committee recommends COF develop additional materials or resources. Upon approval/completion, these resources will be available to all community foundations registered with National Standards.
P = The committee recommends that CFNSB reviews this matter. Upon approval, the appropriate committee/sub-committee will review.
National Standard 1 - Meeting the Definition of a Community Foundation
- P: CF Definition: Considering increased DAF scrutiny and changing business practices and priorities, CFNSB should review the contemporary relevance of “building permanent component funds” in the context of the CFNSB Community Foundation definition. Can a foundation still meet the definition if the CF does not hold or require any endowed portion for component funds?
National Standard 2 - An Independent Board that Reflects the Community
- P: 2.2: CFNSB DEI Working Group should review the concept of “diversity” and provide additional resources for applicants and reviewers to ensure that the spirit of NS2 is met.
- P: 2.3: CFNSB DEI Working Group should consider the requirement of a narrative that exemplifies the foundation’s work in the DEI sphere.
- C: COF Bylaws Template: template should be revised to include recommended board director term limits as a ‘best practice’.
National Standard 3 - Foundation Control over Component Funds
- C: 3.1: Provide guidance to clarify what constitutes a “material change” to a previously executed fund agreement (as opposed to a clarification, permitted transition, or addendum)?
National Standard 4 - Advance the Foundation's Mission, Strategy, and Policies
- C: Rename standard to remove reference to “policies”.
- National Standard 4 - Advance the Foundation's Mission and Strategy
- Q: 4.1 (new): “Provide the community foundation’s mission or purpose statement.” - (Narrative Textbox)
- Q: 4.2 (new): “Is the community foundation currently operating according to an active strategic plan?” – (Dropdown: Yes/No – Please Clarify/No – Currently Under Development)
- Q: 4.2b (new): “Provide recent board or committee minutes demonstrating monitoring of progress and/or benchmarks in strategic plan.” – (Attach Minutes)
National Standard 5 - A Board and Staff that is Responsible for Operational Health
- C: 5: Reorder questions to separate HR from Operations questions.
- 5.1, 5.2, 5.9, 5.3, 5.4, 5.5, 5.6, 5.7, 5.8, (5.10 moved to 8.3), 5.11
- C: 5.2: Reference “state laws”.
- 5.2 “Does the organization’s hiring process comply with applicable state and federal laws including the Americans with Disabilities Act?”
- C: 5.3: Revise question to add checkboxes for various types of insurance available.
- 5.3 “What insurance policy types does your foundation hold?” (Check all that apply: Directors and Officers, General and Professional Liability, Property, Cybersecurity, Other).
- C: 5.9: Revise question to ask if the community foundation “conducts” (rather than “has”) an annual performance review process for the CEO.
- 5.9 “Does the community foundation conduct an annual performance review process for the CEO?”
- C: 5.1: Separate 5.1 into 3 questions. Add field asking for last board approval of handbook.
- 5.1 “Does each employee receive and sign an employee handbook?” – (Yes/No)
- 5.1a “Does the information in the employee handbook meet any/all of the legal requirements of the state where the foundation is incorporated?” - (Yes/No)
- 5.1b “Date of last legal review board or board committee approval of employee handbook” - (Date Entry)
National Standard 6 - A Board that Monitors Policies and Grants
- C: 6.6: Revise question to include reference to video conference.
- 6.6 “Does your board follow applicable state laws when making decisions by teleconference, video conference, or written consent?” (Yes /Not Applicable/ No – provide clarification.)
National Standard 7 - A Board that is Independent
- C: 7.1: Revise question to allow for negative response.
- “Since last submission, did the foundation board address a conflict of interest?” (Yes – Attach minutes/No – provide narrative explaining steps the board will take in the event of a conflict of interest.)
National Standard 8 - Board and CEO Compensation
- Q: 8.2 (new): Move data collection question #18 as a required question in NS8.
- 8.2: “Which salary survey does the community foundation use to inform CEO salary and benefits?” – (Chronicle of Philanthropy, Council on Foundations, Exponent Philanthropy, None (No Paid Staff), Other [please specify])
- P: CFNSB DEI Working Group should consider questions regarding employee compensation (i.e., CEO vs. lowest compensated FTE.)
- P: CFNSB DEI Working Group should consider a question related to the process for setting salaries.
- C: 8.3: Move 5.10 to this section.
- 5.10: “Is the CEO’s compensation set by the board based on the performance review and a review of a relevant salary survey?”
National Standard 9 - Oversight and Control of Geographic Affiliates
- C: 9.1: Revise the question to remove the term “host” and replace with “administer.”
- Q: 9.1a: “Upload a sample Geographic Affiliate Agreement” – (Attach sample fund agreement, operating agreement and/or MOU)
- Q: 9.2: Divide question into 2 parts.
- 9.2 Does the governing body maintain exclusive control of geographic affiliate funds? (Yes/No)
- 9.2a “Does your foundation review minutes from affiliate advisory committee meetings?” (Yes/ Periodically/ No/ No - CF staff attend meetings)
- Q: 9.3 Remove existing question (“Do any representative agreements or operation policies contradict the host community foundation's control and oversight of the geographic affiliate?”) and replace with CF oversight narrative question.
- 9.3 “How does the foundation maintain oversight of its geographic affiliates?” – (Narrative textbox response)
- Q: Data Collection 21: add question regarding asset management.
- “The foundation classifies the assets of geographic affiliates as: (Unrestricted, Field of Interest, Multiple fund types.”)
National Standard 10 - A Board and Staff Actively Developing Broad Support
- C: 10.1: Provide introductory description outlining the difference between an asset development plan and a strategic plan. Note that asset development can be a component of a strategic plan.
- R: 10.1: CFNSB should offer links to companies (such as Harbor Compliance) which offer multi-state charitable solicitation registration services.
- C: 10.3: Offer expanded guidance as to what typically constitutes a legal requirement for charitable solicitation registration.
- C: 10.3: Revise question: “Besides the state in which your community foundation is incorporated and operates, in which states does the foundation complete charitable solicitation registration?” – (textbox to list states.)
- Q: 10.4: “What is the foundation’s current level of public support?” – (dropdown of public support % ranges – with option to provide narrative in event of low public support.)
- C: 10.4: Provide clarifying language to 10.4 referencing applicable section of 990 where public support information can be located.
- Q: Data Collection 22: Does the foundation use external partners to complete charitable solicitation registration? (Yes [please specify]/ No)
National Standard 11 - The Board Secures Discretionary Resources
- C: Rename standard to include ‘deployment’ of resources.
- National Standard 11 - The Board Secures and Deploys Discretionary Resources
- C: 11.1: Revise question to shifting away from “operations.”
- 11.1: “Does the asset development plan include a long-term strategy to secure unrestricted dollars that can be used to meet changing community needs, address new opportunities and/or support operations?” (Yes/No/ If no, ask for narrative to explain.)
- Q: 11.2 (new): “Describe the foundation’s framework for deploying discretionary (board directed) resources” (Narrative textbox OR check all that apply: Competitive grants; Initiative support; Operating support; Other.)
National Standard 12 - The Board Demonstrates Legal and Fiduciary Control
- Q: 12.2 (new): “Upload screenshot of location on website or within policy that addresses availability of gift and fund acceptance policies.” (Screenshot Upload)
National Standard 13 - Fund Management and Financial Records
- C: 13.2: Move to “Documents Requested with Each Renewal” section in renewal assessment. Upload field for “minutes demonstrating interim and annual financial statement review.”
- C: 13.3: Move to “Documents Requested with Each Renewal” section in renewal assessment. Upload field for “annual report of investment performance to full board”.
National Standard 14 - Accountable and Transparent Programs and Finances
- C: 14.1: Revise question to allow for other Form 990 online postings.
- 14.1: “Is the foundation’s most recent 990 available on its website?” (Third-party website [Guidestar, Nonprofit Explorer, Charity Navigator, etc.], posted to Foundation Website, Available upon request, Foundation does not make 990 available, Other [please specify])
- Q: 14.3: Revise question to: “How does the foundation share an annual summary of its activities?” - (check all that apply)
National Standard 15 - The Foundation Maintains Fund Records
- Q: 15.1: Revise question to allow for “establishing documents” – with regard to funds established without donor input, such as through wills, estates, trusts, or other.
- 15.1 “Does the foundation keep a fully executed fund agreement and/or establishing documents (including any addendums and/or meeting notes) that reflect donor intent for each component fund?”
- Q: 15.2 (new): “Does the foundation have a process in place for retaining documents related to establishing component funds that have no donor involvement?” (Yes/No)
- Q: C1: Request upload of template for fund agreement or MOU if applicable.
- R: COF should develop a fund agreement/MOU template or guide for instances in which the foundation receives gifts with no donor party to an agreement.
- R: COF should develop additional fund agreement type templates.
National Standard 16 - Honoring Donor Intent and the Law
- R: COF Should develop a best-practice guide for cleaning up old funds / use of UPMIFA / use of variance power / other changes to fund purposes, status, etc.
- C: 16.5: Break question 16.5 into 4 parts.
- 16.5: “Does the Board or designated staff approve all members of scholarship committee(s) by name?” (Yes/No/NA Foundation does not offer scholarship funds.)
- 16.5a: “Does the foundation ensure that donor, donor advisor, and/or related parties do not control the selection process for scholarship committee members?” (Yes/No/NA Foundation does not offer scholarship funds.)
- 16.5b “Does the foundation ensure that the donor, donor advisor, or related parties do not directly or indirectly control the selection of scholarship recipients?” (Yes/No/NA Foundation does not offer scholarship funds.)
- 16.5c “Does the foundation ensure that all grants are awarded (1) on an objective and nondiscriminatory basis (2) using a procedure approved in advance by the Foundation’s board and (3) that the selection process has been designed to ensure that all such grants meet the regulatory requirements for scholarship programs?” (Yes/No/NA Foundation does not offer scholarship funds.)
National Standard 17 - The Board Has and Makes Public the Annual Audit
- Q: Documents Required with Each Renewal: “If the foundation received a management letter during its latest financial audit, please upload the management letter.” (Document upload)
- Q: Documents Required with Each Renewal: “If a management letter was received, what is the foundation’s plan to address the named issues or deficiencies?” – (Narrative textbox)
- Q: Documents Required with Each Renewal: “Upload board or committee minutes demonstrating that the board has accepted the audit.” (Document upload)
National Standard 18 - Diverse Grantmaking
- C: Rename standard to remove “diversity” from title.
- National Standard 18 – Broad Range of Community Support
- Q:2a (new): “Provide data demonstrating that the foundation makes grants across a broad range of community needs.” - (Document upload)
National Standard 19 - Discretionary Grants Respond to Community Needs
- C: 19.2: Revise question to remove “improve” substitute “inform” and allow for “other” types of reports beyond grant evaluation reports.
- 19.2 “Provide a brief narrative describing how the foundation uses grant evaluation or other reports to educate the board and to inform its grantmaking process.”
National Standard 20 - Oversight of Grantmaking Due Diligence
- C: 20.1: Clarify distinction between expenditure responsibility procedure and due diligence procedure to determine eligible grantees. Clarify distinction between competitive grant process and DAF process.
- Q: 20.1 (new): “Does the foundation make grants that require expenditure responsibility?” – (Yes – Include Grantmaking Due Diligence Procedure Below/ No – Include due diligence procedure for identifying eligible grantees below.)
National Standard 21 - Donor Education and Engagement
- C: 21.1: Update list to include virtual options (check all that apply).
National Standard 22 - Gift Acknowledgement and Fund Statement for Donors
- C: 22.1 Section should be updated and modernized to fix PayPal references.
- Q: Data Collection 23: Determine use of online giving portals/software.
National Standard 23 - Privacy & Confidentiality
National Standard 24 - Community Leadership
- C: 24.1: move upload fields to Documents Required with Each Renewal
- C: 24: Revise introductory language for consistency and clarity (i.e., clarify that at least 2 examples from past 2 years are required with each submission.)
National Standard 25 - Social Media and Communications
- C: 25.1: Remove reference to specific social media platforms. Add additional options such as webinars, e-newsletters, annual events, editorial content, public appearances, and convenings.
- R: B10: Revise COF’s sample Social Media Policy to include the ‘best practice’ of designating responsibility for monitoring social media to a specific staff role within the foundation .
National Standard 26 - Advocacy and Lobbying Activities
- C: 26.2: move upload field to Documents Required with Each Renewal
- C: 26.4: move upload field to Documents Required with Each Renewal
- C: 26: Require legal review of submitted materials during National Standards accreditation process.
- R: The committee requests that COF provides materials that offer clarity around advocacy work and its distinction from lobbying, as well as guidance and resources related to having elected officials on the board.