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Project Profile:

Community Foundation Standards

A project of the Council of Michigan Foundations

Brainstorming Image

Project Timeline:

January 1997 to December 1999

Locations Impacted:

State of Michigan

Collaborating Organizations

Council on Foundations

About the Project

With the opportunity created through the Michigan Community Foundations’ Youth Project (MCFYP), the state of Michigan saw rapid expansion and growth in the number of its community foundations. This growth raised questions about what qualified as a community foundation, how to communicate the goals and purposes of community foundations to potential donors, and what should define a community foundation, both legally and operationally. The first step in creating the legislation of 1989 for the Michigan Community Foundation Tax Credit was to include an operational definition for community foundations as a way to determine what type of organizations could qualify for the credit.

With the Michigan Community Foundations’ Youth Project (MCFYP) coming to an end in 1997 and the goal of providing access to community foundations for all 83 counties accomplished, the community foundation committee within the Council of Michigan Foundations (CMF) began developing a common set of community foundation standards. These standards focused on areas of: governance; administration and finance; fund development; grantmaking; and communications.

MCFYP, as a supporting organization of CMF, was transitioned to Michigan Community Foundation Ventures (MCFV).  The initial products of MCFV – the Branding Project – related directly to the standards and presented an opportunity for CMF’s community foundation members to develop a common brand, joint public relations, and standardized marketing strategies. It also became important to assure potential donors that every organization calling itself a community foundation could deliver a similar quality of product. The opportunity to engage in joint marketing motivated Michigan community foundations to define what services should be offered to communities and to develop operating standards for the field – for themselves. The tag line “For Good. For Ever.” was developed as part of this effort, and 11 community foundations agreed to change their names to include the word “community.”

MCFV, through CMF, then provided these branding project tools to the Council on Foundations to be offered nationwide to other community foundations.

Key Accomplishments/Outcomes:


VideoVideo: Watch leaders discuss creating national standards for community foundations:

This profile was last updated: 11/04/2015