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

Benchmarking reports

The Council on Foundations, in partnership with other institutions like The Foundation Center, provides informative studies to inform individual foundations about how they compare with others in areas of operations like governance and administrative expenses, for example. The Foundation Management Series 2010 in its Key Findings, noted that community foundations represented about 50% of the respondents to the survey indicating the interest of community foundations to be able to benchmark their activities. In terms of program expenses for 2008, the study showed that community foundations‘ program expenses represented a median 12.4 share of their overall qualifying distributions (defined as “all expenses that qualify toward meeting the payout requirement of the Internal Revenue Service”).

CF Leads

There are other initiatives to improve CF practice that are anchored by other networks outside the Council on Foundations. CFLeads for example, implemented a leadership development program resulting in initiation of two leadership networks involving 16 CFs. National Task Force on Community Leadership (group of 30 philanthropic leaders) created frameworks for community leadership at both individual community foundation and field levels.

Specific Processes and Tools are serving a number of purposes for community foundations in the United States.

Purpose served: Remarks

1. Competition

60 percent of community foundations are compliant with the standards and enjoy the benefits.

2. Accountability, transparency, self-improvement

The National Standards Seal distinguishes compliant organizations from those who are non-compliant.

3. Distinguish characteristics of CF from other NGOs.

Yes through the National Standards.

4. Unify national community foundation field

The Standards capture the unique processes and services of CFs.

5. Roadmap for ethical, legal, effective practices

Yes through the National Standards.

6. Symbol of excellence and rigor

Yes, the Standards are more than minimum requirements.

7. Framework for organizational development


8. Framework for documenting, communicating and providing training and technical assistance to advance best practices