National Standards: The Bedrock of an Exceptional Community Foundation
Affirming Our Quality and Our Team
By Chris Askin CSPG, CFRE
President & CEO
The Community Foundation of Northern Nevada’s growth and expansion of systems, services, and policies have, over many years now, been shaped by being certified to meet the National Standards for U.S. Community Foundations.
Community foundations generally evolved as local entities, with each unique in its services. As people moved from region to region, they had differing experiences from their local community foundations. Recognizing that reality, two decades ago the Council on Foundations began developing its certification program to provide national standards and expectations.
Because the Community Foundation of Northern Nevada was new at the time, we jumped on the opportunity and likely completed more than five years of improvements in just a few months. We essentially became one of the more experienced and complete foundations you'll find anywhere, and we've never looked back.
When we conduct our orientation for incoming board members and staff, I tell them that a close review of the national standards is probably the best way to understand a community foundation as a business. There are 26 national standards and each of them has several elements that provide more detail.
Every three years, the Community Foundation of Northern Nevada must recertify, and it is quite a bit of work. The National Standards Board reviews virtually all our written materials, policies, template agreements, financials, and more, and through that expert review, we make changes and improvements. Having recertified several times, we have truly reached the highest level of expertise and professional services.
In a way, even using the term “standard” doesn’t fit our work at all. “Exceptional” better describes our foundation, our team, and our visionary Board.
Although the goal of establishing the standards was to make all community foundations more alike, there are still some stark differences in the services between what we and our peer foundations are willing to offer. I am most proud of our willingness to take on both services to donors, and support to the community, that many community foundations do not provide.
Our services to donors include our ability to work with each one on gifting of property throughout the country, to receive business interest and unusual assets, and to sell or hold those assets, depending on what is best for the donor and for their charitable goals.
Another difference at the Community Foundation of Northern Nevada is that we address persistent issues in our community and build collaborative solutions. Our Community Engagement team convenes residents and leads initiatives that currently include affordable housing, financial scam prevention, and family caregiving.
We also have several educational and impact investment programs that are measurably improving the lives of people in our region. For example, while the Community Foundation of Northern Nevada offers donors a way to fund scholarships, it is not something all community foundations do.
I’d like to give a shout-out to Lyndsey Crossley on our staff who has handled our reaccreditation for the last couple of cycles. Managing this process has led to Lyndsey (and truly to all staff) becoming top experts in the field. I don’t share the term “expert” lightly, and in our case, it means that our experienced staff are sought after as local resources in the areas of philanthropic advising, charity administration, non-profit accounting, scholarship administration, gift planning, charitable trust administration, personal financial and estate planning as relates to charitable gifting, and much more.
In a way, even using the term “standard” doesn’t fit our work at all. “Exceptional” better describes our foundation, our team, and our visionary Board. Although we may have transcended the National Standards, they remain a bedrock of our development and status as a high-performing community foundation. We are proud to display the seal for National Standards for U.S. Community Foundations on our website and materials.
The Community Foundation of Northern Nevada is strengthening our community through philanthropy and leadership by connecting people who care with causes that matter. If you'd like more information, call (775) 333-5499 or email here.
July 31, 2021