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


The output is a first-attempt at categorization of these tools and instruments according to purposes served in the six areas of operation namely:

  • Mission, structure and governance
  • Resource development
  • Stewardship and accountability
  • Grantmaking and community leadership
  • Donor relations
  • Communications

In so doing, this initial study provides a snapshot of what processes and instruments are available to associations of community foundations as they find ways to promote good practice among their members.

To be clear, the study takes the perspective of the national network whose role has been to get members to develop and agree on principles or to agree on a certification process or standards. In discussions of the CF Advisory Committee, they agreed that WINGS was not recommending that associations have “standards of best practice” or a certification process. In some cases, what seemed workable was a “statement of principles” or “values statement”. WINGS had no recommendation as well to view the soft and hard approaches as in a continuum, implying an ideal progression from the application of “principles” (soft) to “certification based on standards” (hard).

Key informants. Initial data was provided by key informants who were available to assist this project in 2010 including: Philanthropy Australia, Community Foundations of Canada, Association of Community Foundations in Slovakia, V4 Community Foundation Maturity Program/ Academy for the Development of Philanthropy in Poland, Initiative Büergerstiftungen (Community Foundations Initiative), Community Foundation Network, Council of Michigan Foundations/Council on Foundations, and Puerto Rico Community Foundation. Supplementary information was sourced from the World Wide Web, as possible.

The informants were asked:

  • What are the general experiences of principles development or standards-setting including the purpose for this, who undertook this, how were these processes and tools vetted or validated, how is compliance monitoring done (if this information is available).
  • What tools and instruments serve the six areas of operation (as enumerated above)?

Organization of the paper

  • Section I: Describes the various approaches used (per area summary)
  • Section II: Conclusion

Research limitations Overall, because of the preliminary data, Section I is uneven and bears many data gaps. This reflects the reliance on email correspondence for data gathering supplemented by web-based research which was also limited to open access material. The schedule for email correspondence also did not jibe with the availability of other potential informants from other countries to input to the study. Nonetheless, it is hoped that this preliminary sketch is a step leading to more substantive research.