The Council on Foundations Recognizes the Greater Milwaukee Foundation for Compliance with National Accountability Standards

The Greater Milwaukee Foundation is recognized for having organizational and financial practices that are in accordance with the National Standards for U.S. Community Foundations.

National Standards says that we meet the most rigorous standards in philanthropy and is a promise to our community that we’ll continue to do this good work together. The Foundation’s accreditation provides assurance that we have sound policies and practices in place.

The Council on Foundations and leaders of the community foundation field created the National Standards in 2000 to aid community foundations in establishing legal, ethical and effective operational practices that would show the foundations’ transparency and financial responsibility in light of the increased public scrutiny of foundation practices. In addition, National Standards were developed to distinguish community foundations from other philanthropic vehicles, build the capacity of community foundations to carry out their missions, and assist the field with self-regulation in a manner viewed positively by the Internal Revenue Service.

The Greater Milwaukee Foundation was one of the first foundations in the country to be certified and has been in compliance with the National Standards since 2001. The National Standards seal, pictured here,

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was developed for community foundations to signify that they have been confirmed in compliance with National Standards. Professional advisers and prospective donors will recognize the seal as an indication of integrity and demonstrated excellence.

To receive accreditation with National Standards, The Greater Milwaukee Foundation submitted our policies and procedures to a rigorous review of 41 National Standards in six key areas of community foundation operations:

  • Mission, Structure and Governance, including standards defining board accountability, compensation, independence, fiduciary responsibility and representation of the community.
  • Resource Development, including parameters for administration of funds, disclosures to donors and commitment to building long-term resource for varied community issues and causes.
  • Stewardship and Accountability, covering prudent investment and management of funds, transparent record-keeping, use of funds for their intended purpose, annual audits, and public availability of financial information, including standards related to due diligence and community responsiveness.
  • Grantmaking and Community Leadership, including standards related to broad and open grantmaking programs, due diligence, and responsiveness to changing community needs.
  • Donor Relations, involving the education and engagement of donors in identifying and addressing community issues and grantmaking opportunities. Also, provides prompt and accurate acknowledgment of gifts, annually shares fund statement, and keeps all private information obtained with respect to donors and prospects confidential to the fullest extent possible.
  • Communications, including openness to public scrutiny and frequent communications about activities and finances.

Confidentiality Policy

The Greater Milwaukee Foundation maintains and manages information that must be kept confidential. The Foundation Board has adopted a policy on confidentiality to assist the Foundation’s directors, officers, employees, agents, fiduciaries and volunteers in fulfilling their confidentiality obligations and commitments. 

Confirmation of Compliance

In order to achieve Confirmation of Compliance with the National Standards, community foundations must undergo an extensive review of their organizational and financial policies and procedures. Re-certification is required every five years and the Greater Milwaukee Foundation will reapply in 2020. The review is performed by trained, independent, experienced community foundation practitioners under the auspices of the Community Foundation National Standard Board, a supporting organization of the Council on Foundations.

The Council on Foundations is a Washington, DC-based non-profit membership association of more than 2,000 grantmaking foundations and corporations. The Council provides the opportunity, leadership and tools needed by philanthropic organizations to expand, enhance and sustain their ability to advance the common good. For more information on the Council, visit the organization’s website at www.cof.org.

2015 Annual Report

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For an overview of last year’s financial performance, read our 2015 annual report.