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

Executive Summary

In conclusion, some insights of key informants and WINGS-CF Advisory Committee members are highlighted below:

  • ‘Principles and standards are a good thing’, was a common observation of the WINGS-CF Committee that met in London a few years back. The study confirms there is a clear trend among community foundation networks to look at improving community foundation practice. The networks surveyed in this study proactively promoted these principles/standards/criteria-setting and other processes.
  • The membership help to determine the character and form of the tools and processes, whether these will look like standards /principles /certification or hybrid forms. The memberships of networks have been involved with their leaders in developing the tools and processes, starting with models coming from the U.S. or Canada. Peer learning, peer reviews, peer decision-making—these determining processes have enabled community foundations to move forward.
  • The common purpose for developing the tools and instruments centered on the great value placed by people on ‘community’ and the community foundation as the giving vehicle of choice to fulfill community aspirations. In the U.K., U.S., Canada for example, community foundations have matured to the point of partnering with government for countrywide programs for communities.
  • In the development of tools and processes, the networks have considered three major groups of actors who will benefit from the tools: volunteer CF Boards and staff, donors and community. Thus there are various tools and instruments relevant to these actors in the areas of (1) mission, structure and governance, (2) resource development, (3) stewardship and accountability, (4) grant making and community leadership, (5) donor relations and (6) communications.
  • Communications is key to promoting tools and processes. Websites are continually being developed as virtual resource centers about these tools. The main message is—community foundations make a unique difference in local philanthropy.
  • There is a range of financial costs involved in undertaking these tools and processes. While figures were not shared by informants of this study, suffice it to say that Philanthropy Australia and Community Foundation Network referred to these costs as under consideration by their management, if certain tools are to be implemented in a sustained manner.

A summary table of the tools and processes (per area) is presented as Annex A.