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National Standards for Community Foundations


National Standards accreditation represents operational effectiveness to foster excellence in community philanthropy.


We do this in two ways:

1.  We create standards for operationally and legally sound community foundations.

2.  We lead community foundation staff and boards through the process of achieving operational excellence.

With confidence in their operations, community foundations can innovate and take risks necessary to solve complex social problems.


Evidence of Excellence

The dollars set aside for charity are limited and precious. The institutions that donors choose to support must be credible and trustworthy. As a symbol of excellence and rigor, the National Standards Seal helps philanthropists and their professional advisers recognize and choose community foundations as a sound place to give and make a difference.



Community foundations of all sizes use National Standards as a roadmap to establish legal, ethical, effective practices that withstand the scrutiny of donors, government and media. Over time, National Standards have become an important resource for developing new and emerging community foundations.


With National Standards as a base, community foundations establish high levels of operational integrity, separating themselves from the potential mistakes or wrongdoing of other entities. Community foundations also use National Standards to promote self-regulation in a manner viewed positively by the Internal Revenue Service, which has increased its scrutiny of charities, especially those offering donor-advised funds.



National Standards set consistent expectations among community foundation boards and practitioners, helping them focus and make effective use of time and talent. They also provide a framework for documenting, communicating and providing training and technical assistance to advance best practices.



Community foundations use National Standards to distinguish themselves from entities that provide similar services. When community foundations work together regionally or nationally to build awareness of their unique value, standards reduce the risk of doing so by ensuring all participants have met benchmarks for quality in operations and service.


Learn more at:cof.org/community-foundation-standards