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New Standards for Community Foundations

(Sept. 18, 2006) The Council on Foundations has developed a new standards program for community foundations that engage in ethical and effective practices and highlight transparency and financial responsibility.

More than 260 community foundations recently earned the National Standards Seal, which was created by the council and leaders of the community foundation field. Nearly 300 more organizations are in the process of either compiling materials for their record book or are currently under review.

To receive the seal, community foundations are required to document their performance in donor services, investment management, grant making and administration.

The standards program is the first of its kind for charitable foundations in the United States, according to the council.

“This is similar to the Good Housekeeping Seal® for community foundations,” said Steve Gunderson, president and CEO of the Council on Foundations, in a press release about the program. “This is critically important to the millions of people who give to and through community foundations. The National Standards confirmation says this community foundation has demonstrated a commitment to operational quality, integrity and accountability. Professional advisors and prospective donors will recognize the seal as an indication of the integrity and demonstrated excellence of the community foundation.”

In 2005, U.S. community foundation grants totaled $3 billion, up 14 percent and $371 million more than the previous year’s total of $2.6 billion. Annual grant distributions have tripled since 1996, the first year community foundation grants totaled $1 billion nationally.

The Council on Foundations is a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit membership association of more than 2,000 grant-making foundations and corporations, with assets totaling more than $282 billion.

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