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

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SECTION I: Identifying the various approaches used

When community foundations use the terms—principles, value statements, standards, criteria for membership, code of practice and others, there arises a confusing assortment of meanings. Similar terms are also being used interchangeably, noted one member of the WINGS-CF Committee.

Perhaps a case in point comes from the Visegrad country experiences:

  • In general, we can say that our standards are rather the minimum guidelines. We use the term “standard” because the terms certification and accreditation do not seem to be adequate to this type of guideline.3

The WINGS-CF Committee also spoke about how the philanthropic community has been more open and accepting of statements of principles, value statements and standards of best practice (the ‘soft’ approach) and less open to the use of codes and benchmarks (the ‘hard’ approach that went with regulation and bureaucracy).

While there is no consensus about definitions at this time, the tools and instruments surveyed in this study indicated a clear and common starting point for these tools, that is, a view of what is a community foundation and its purpose:

  • “…a grantmaking organization that seeks to improve the quality of life for all people in a defined geographic area; is independent from control or influence by other organizations, government or donors; is governed by a volunteer board of citizens, reflective of the communities they serve; makes grants to other non-profit groups to address a wide variety of emerging and changing needs in the community; seeks to build a permanent resource for the community, through endowed funds from donors including local citizens, corporations, government and other foundations.”4

Following are the variety of approaches used in Australia, Canada, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, Germany, United Kingdom, the United States and Puerto Rico.

3Report by Iwona Olkowicz and Aneta Kapel, V4 Community Foundation Maturity Program, Program DL dla Leadera, Akademia Rozwoju Filantropii w Polsce / Academy for the Development of Philanthropy in Poland

4E. Sacks, 2005 Community Foundation Global Status Report, WINGS.