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

Executive Summary

In 2010, WINGS followed up on the interests of its Community Foundation Committee to compile information on how community foundations were continually improving performance. Specifically, what tools and processes were being used and how; what ‘benchmarking’ and similar experiences could be shared by practitioners to the WINGS network?

This preliminary study compiles information about the variety of approaches to developing these tools and processes. There are principles, value statements and standards of best practice (‘soft’ approaches) and there are codes and benchmarks (‘hard’ approaches that denote regulation and bureaucracy). It is hoped that the study will be useful to WINGS and its members as they appreciate the range of options available to them.

Initial data was provided by seven associations of community foundations or networks. Those who were available to assist this project shared the experiences in Australia, Canada, Visegrad countries (except Hungary), Germany, United Kingdom, United States, and Puerto Rico (the community foundation and its grant seekers). 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, and how is monitoring of compliance done? What tools and instruments are being used that serve the six areas1 of community foundation operation namely:

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

The data is uneven due to research limitations, nonetheless, it is a starting point and offers a snapshot of current practices from four different regions (Asia Pacific, North America, Latin America, and countries from Europe. No data was obtained from countries in Africa and the Middle East.

1Emailed inputs from Donnel Mersereau, reflecting the U.S. National Standards.