It was a much-anticipated piece of news that had Community Foundation of the Great River Bend staff members singing and dancing earlier this month. "I was so happy," said Hannah Morrell, who is the Community Foundation's Director of Administration and Donor Services.
She spearheaded the effort to earn CFGRB its reaccreditation with National Standards for U.S. Community Foundations. CFGRB had last earned a 5-year accreditation in 2011. "There was a lot of excitement and celebrating, some yelling, some cheering."
CFGRB was one of the first in the United States to receive national accreditation in 2005. More than 500 community foundations in the country are nationally accredited with 96 percent of the largest community foundations participating in the National Standards program. In the past, National Standards were revised every 5 years. The most recent provision is that the Community Foundation will receive reaccreditation annually versus every 5 years.
The reaccreditation, which was the culmination of nearly one year of work, does several important things for the Community Foundation. "It makes our donors eligible for the Endow Iowa Tax Credit," Morrell said. "And, it shows the integrity and professionalism of the Community Foundation—that we are willing to go above and beyond what is regulated at the state and federal level."
CFGRB President and CEO Sherry Ristau said the reaccreditation process provides accountability for staff as they review our work and processes. "It is another layer for us to make sure we are operating in the most efficient way, so we can provide the very best to our donors and the community," she said. "I am so pleased with Hannah's work and the contributions from every member of our staff who made this possible."
Morrell said it truly was a team effort. "The entire staff had some part in this."
As part of the process, CFGRB must provide evidence for multiple standards, including what was discussed at the board level, internal procedures, and evidence that the Community Foundation is following those procedures. CFGRB was required to submit certain paperwork in 2011 that piggybacked on the original files from 2005. But the National Standards Board revamped its system in 2015, switching to an online process. "Whenever there's a new system, there are challenges," Morrell said. "It felt like we were doing everything from scratch, but it will be worth it for the future."
Because everything is online now, they can update policies throughout the year. "This year's process really laid a foundation for future years," she said.
They will continue to reapply for reaccreditation every year. "But from here on out, it should be a smooth process," Morrell added. "This really embodies what the Community Foundation is about—going above and beyond and being an organization the community can trust."
Learn more about the Endow Iowa Tax Credit that donors can use thanks, in part, to our accreditation.