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

United Kingdom23

General Experiences:

The Community Foundation Network (CFN) has grown since its founding in 1991 to become the U.K.‘s biggest grant-making network providing in 2009-2010 about £74 million through 26,000 grants.24

In 2011, there were 56 members of CFN located in parts of England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland. This membership, says Suzie Webster, CFN Development Manager operate with marked differences:

  • “…our members range from small grant-makers with low endowment and one member of staff to large community-building agencies employing 25 members of staff and £40M in endowed funds. No two members are the same, and our benchmarking and Quality Accreditation (QA) tools are designed to reflect this.”

The Quality Mark of Community Foundations

According to CFN, their members requested for a quality mark in mid-2005. In response, CFN developed the Quality Accreditation program. In consultation with members, the standards (20 plus 5 for CFN‘s corporate assessment) were developed and written up and subsequently submitted by CFN for the endorsement of the Charity Commission for England and Wales. The official endorsement was received, signifying its consistency with the Commission‘s Hallmarks of an Effective Charity. For CFN, the official endorsement places great value on CFN‘s standards and processes.

There are five performance areas plus a corporate assessment of a community foundation. These five are:25

  • Definition and governance
  • Finance and risk
  • Donor services and development
  • Grant making
  • Community engagement and communications

CFN implemented the first three-year program (QA1) in 2006-2009 where 80 percent of the members gained the quality mark. QA2 was then designed for implementation in 2010-2013 using learnings from QA1. The QA2 re-accreditation is a process independent of the first.

  • “The standards for QA2 are not significantly different than for QA1,” explains Suzie Webster, “but the process is more rigorous and responds to learning gathered during the initial process. It is also worth saying that these are not two levels of accreditation … QA1 has finished and now anyone who achieves accreditation, achieves it under the second round, QA2...”

23Report based on inputs from Suzie Webster, CFN‘s Development Manager.