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


Corporate Assessment

  • Is the community foundation clear about its purpose, direction and goals
  • How has the community foundation set about delivering its priorities?
  • What has the community foundation achieved/not achieved so far?
  • What has the community foundation learned to date and how does it intend to use this learning?
  • Is the Board engaged and providing leadership?

Ramifications for erring accredited members– Should it happen that an accredited CF suffers a huge loss of capacity or commits a form fraudulent practice, CFN will apply the Suspension and De-Accreditation Policy.

Benchmarking performance

A few years ago, noted Suzie Webster, CFN developed the annual benchmarking service for members. The practice while in place, is still relatively new and is being developed further.

Using data from the annual survey conducted by CFN coupled with other data from annual reports submitted to the Charity Commission, CFN constructs a series of graphs showing individual performances as against others in the network.

“These graphs are currently anonymous in that they only show the position of the community foundation to whom they are being sent, so that CF can see where they are in the spread of responses, but cannot identify other CFs through these graphs. CFs are given the opportunity to respond and question their benchmarking data.“

There are 12 graphs that show, for example, the ratio of grantmaking costs to grants made, average grant value, endowment growth from year to year, ratio of volunteers to staff, etc.

Are the benchmarks “minimum guidelines” or “evidence of excellence” for CFN? These are not one or the other, according to Suzie Webster. The “minimum guidelines” would be the accreditation process rather than benchmarking. Particularly high standards that are noted through the benchmarking or QA process would be celebrated and encouraged to be developed through the Centres of Excellence model.

Network development

In mid-1999, CFN appointed staff to Network Development to respond to specific needs with tailor-fitted responses.26 CFs seeking to comply with national standards can avail of technical assistance through CFN and training assistance from the ‘Centres of Excellence’.

  • Sample documents available through the members‘ area of the CFN website
  • Guidance notes available through the members‘ area of the CFN website
  • raining available in certain areas through the Centres of Excellence
  • Signposting to other training and expertise
  • Telephone/email helpline to CFN
  • Telephone/email contact with the assessors before, during and after the assessment process