The Various Tools and Processes that Community Foundations Use to Improve Practice

  1. A community foundation must continually increase its endowment funds. In doing so, it gives all those citizens who feel bound to a certain city or region and who approve of the foundation's goals, the opportunity to donate to the fund. Additionally, it collects project donations and can create sub-foundations and funds to pursue individual approved goals or to focus on regional sub-districts.
  2. A community foundation affects a broad spectrum of urban or regional life, the betterment of which is of foremost importance. For this reason, the aims of the foundation must also be broad. Generally, a foundation's work encompasses the cultural sector, youth and social programs, education, nature and the environment, and the protection of historical monuments. Its work is either supportive or operational, and should also aim to be innovative.
  3. A community foundation supports projects that rely on civil participation or that help others to help themselves. In doing so, the foundation endeavours to encourage a new form of social commitment.
  4. A community foundation carries out its projects publicly and also conducts public relations work in order to give all citizens in its region the opportunity to participate in the projects.
  5. A community foundation may coordinate a local network of different non-profit organisations within a city or region.
  6. The internal workings of a community foundation distinguish themselves through participation and transparency. A community foundation has several groups (directors and controlling bodies) in which citizens acting for other citizens can hold an office with an executive or controlling function.

Specific Processes and Tools are serving a number of purposes for community foundations in Germany.

Purpose served: Elaboration

1. Competition

Several goals: Membership in the Association of Foundations and the award of its Seal of Approval; A certification of excellence as a community foundation. With 80 percent of community foundations certified, there is pressure to uphold the standards in one‘s organization and in the field.

2. Accountability, transparency, self-improvement

These are upheld in the 10 Characteristics as basic requirements of community foundations.

3. Distinguish characteristics of CF from other NGOs.

Yes, through the 10 Characteristics of Community Foundations.

4. Unify national community foundation field

The process of assembling the CFs at the Affinity Group and recognizing “excellent” CFs during the National Holiday for Community Foundations has unified the field.

5. Roadmap for ethical, legal, effective practices


6. Symbol of excellence and rigor

Yes, through several avenues as already mentioned like the Seal of Approval process. CFs without the proper legal documents (or un-amended papers) and other basic requirements cannot apply for certification.