National Standards Proposed Revisions Open to Comment from the Field

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The Community Foundations National Standards Board (CFNSB) today announces the field comment period for the December 2013 Proposed Revised National Standards. These revisions are being made as part of a five-year review cycle, and will be open to comment from January 15 to February 15, 2014.

The revision cycle ensures that the standards remain relevant and up-to-date as the community foundation field and philanthropic sector continue to evolve and innovate. Standards Action Team (SAT) members devoted many hours to reviewing critique and recommendations provided by their peers. The December 2013 draft revision represents their best efforts at capturing the sentiments of the broad field on how to improve the National Standards.

The SAT felt they had a clear mandate from the field to create an easier-to-use system of organizing and referring to the standards and to reduce or consolidate the number of standards wherever possible without compromising their substance and integrity. It is important to be aware that this survey request specifically relates to the SAT's proposed revised National Standards - not to the accreditation process associated with the Standards.

Many suggestions were received regarding how to streamline and improve the process of review and accreditation. Those suggestions have been organized and shared with the Community Foundations National Standards Board. It is the work of the CFNSB to continue its efforts to streamline and refine the process, both to make it easier for community foundations of all sizes to participate and to continue to ensure that standards reflect the tension between best and most effective practices. The SAT's charge was to assess and propose the revised National Standards by which community foundations will be accredited. Once the revisions are finalized and approved by the Council, the Community Foundation National Standards Board will work to streamline the National Standards submission process.

The final revisions will be announced at the 2014 Council on Foundations Fall Conference for Community Foundations in Cleveland, Ohio.

The proposed revisions are available for review online, and we invite you to submit your comments using our online form. Please note that we are specifically seeking comments on the proposed definition of community foundations; two are offered for your discussion and review. We appreciate this remains an area of discussion and wanted to widen the circle for our colleagues to comment.

We laud the work of your colleagues on the Standards Action Team who volunteered their time to review and revise the National Standards with special thanks to Judy Sjostedt for her leadership on the Standards Action Team and to Daria Teutonico for her contributions to the revision process and steadfast support at the COF staff level.

We continue to believe that National Standards are a distinctive element of our work as community foundations, and we appreciate the feedback and commentary as we moved through this review. Thank you for your input, observations, and insights. We look forward to your feedback by February 15 and to finalizing this process in 2014.

If you have any questions, please contact Lara Kalwinski, Director of National Standards and former community foundation colleague at 703-879-0672 or lara.kalwinski@cof.org.

Kind regards from your colleagues,
Standards Action Team
Community Foundation National Standards Board

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About National Standards

The National Standards for U.S. Community Foundations™ provide community foundations with a way to distinguish themselves from entities that provide similar services such as donor advised funds and scholarship funds. No other grantmaking bodies or foundation types have worked together to identify sound polices and accountable practices to be measured against. Community foundations’ efforts to self-regulate are viewed positively by the Internal Revenue Service, which has increased its scrutiny of charities especially those offering donor advised funds.

For twenty years, the idea of community foundations self-regulating their activities has been an important topic in the philanthropic community. In the United States, community foundations serve tens of thousands of donors, administer more than $40 billion in charitable funds, and address the core concerns of more than 700 communities and regions. With such a presence—nationally and within local communities—comes responsibility. The National Standards for U.S. Community Foundations mark an individual and collective commitment and an outward sign that community foundations take this responsibility very seriously.

For more information about National Standards accreditation, visit http://www.cof.org/content/national-standards-us-community-foundations.

The National Standards for U.S. Community Foundations™ were adopted in 2000 by the Council on Foundations. The formal confirmation of compliance process began in 2005 with community foundations declaring their intent to comply. In 2009, the Council’s board approved the governing documents of the Community Foundations National Standards Board, a Type I supporting organization of the Council on Foundations. The CFNSB’s mission is to carry out and advance The National Standards for U.S. Community Foundations™ accreditation process by ensuring the integrity of the process and building the value of confirmation of compliance for the community foundation field and greater community.