All community foundations receiving accreditation must meet 26 National Standards. Updated in 2014, these standards show that the community foundation strives to achieve operational excellence.

Mission, Structure, & Governance


Meeting the Definition of a Community Foundation

A community foundation is a tax-exempt, nonprofit, autonomous, nonsectarian philanthropic institution supported by the public with the long-term goals of:

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An Independent Board that Reflects the Community

A community foundation has an independent governing body that ensures that the community foundation reflects and serves the breadth and diversity of the community.

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Foundation Control over Component Funds

A community foundation’s governing body retains variance power by which it may modify any restriction or condition on the distribution of assets, if circumstances warrant. 

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Advance the Foundation's Mission, Strategy, and Policies

A community foundation’s governing body is responsible for the mission, strategic direction, and policies of a foundation.

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A Board and Staff that is Responsible for Operational Health

A community foundation's governing body ensures the financial health and sustainability of the foundation.

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A Board that Monitors Policies and Grants

A community foundation's governing body approves and monitors policies regulating the ethical operations of the community foundation, ensures that the community foundation meets all legal requirements, and approves all grants.

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A Board that is Independent

A community foundation's governing body is not controlled by any other nonprofit foundation.

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Board and CEO Compensation

A community foundation's governing body oversees a clearly articulated process for board governance and serves without compensation (exclusive of the chief executive officer). 

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Oversight and Control of Geographic Affiliates

A community foundation's governing body maintains oversight and control over geographic affiliates. 

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Resource Development


A Board and Staff Actively Developing Broad Support

A community foundation has, or is actively working to develop, broad support.

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The Board Secures Discretionary Resources

A community foundation has a long-term goal of securing discretionary resources to address the changing needs of the community it serves. 

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The Board Demonstrates Legal and Fiduciary Control

A community foundation's governing body has legal and fiduciary control over all contributions received, adopts appropriate gift and fund acceptance policies, and makes these policies available upon request.

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Stewardship & Accountability


Fund Management and Financial Records

A community foundation is a steward of charitable funds, which invests and prudently manages funds and maintains accurate financial records. 

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Accountable and Transparent Programs and Finances

A community foundation is accountable to the community it serves.

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The Foundation Maintains Fund Records

A community foundation maintains a written record of the terms and conditions of each component fund and all applicable records must reference the variance power. 

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Honoring Donor Intent and the Law

A community foundation honors the charitable intentions of its donors.

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The Board Has and Makes Public the Annual Audit

A community foundation has an annual audit.

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Diverse Grantmaking

A community foundation operates a broad grant program.

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Discretionary Grants Respond to Community Needs

A community foundation awards some grants from its discretionary resources. 

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Oversight of Grantmaking Due Diligence

A community foundation performs due diligence to ensure that grants will be used for charitable purposes and assesses the impact of its grantmaking.

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Donor Relations


Donor Education and Engagement

A community foundation educates and engages donors in identifying and addressing community issues and grantmaking opportunities.

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Gift Acknowledgement and Fund Statement for Donors

A community foundation promptly and accurately acknowledges gifts and provides fund statements.

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Privacy & Confidentiality

A community foundation keeps all private information obtained with respect to donors and prospective donors confidential to the fullest extent possible. 

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Community Leadership

A community foundation identifies and addresses community issues and opportunities. 

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Social Media and Communications

The community foundation communicates openly and transparently on a regular basis.

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Advocacy and Lobbying Activities

When involved in advocacy or lobbying activities, the community foundation ensures it is in compliance with applicable federal and state regulations.

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