Statement Regarding Hugh Ralston, Founding Board Member of the National Standards for U.S. Community Foundations®

The Community Foundations National Standards Board, as the entity charged with administering the Community Foundation National Standards program, has been following media coverage of former board member Hugh Ralston’s recent departure from Central Valley Community Foundation (CFCF) and departure in 2014 from the Ventura County Community Foundation (VCCF). “The National Standards program was established to ensure the values of community foundations are demonstrated through their commitment to legal compliance, philanthropic best practices, and excellence that benefits communities,” said Hazle Hamilton, Community Foundations National Standards Board President. “Accreditation is rigorous — all applications are reviewed by peer and legal reviewers, and updates are regularly made to the process to ensure the National Standards remain relevant amid changing policies and regulations.” Achieving National Standards Accreditation represents that a community foundation has proven it has the capability, professional expertise and knowledge to abide by the comprehensive regulations applied to foundations. The National Standards program, however, does not actively monitor accredited foundations. “The National Standards program is well informed by federal and state regulators and program requirements have been developed based on the law,” said Lara Kalwinski, Executive Director of the National Standards program, “We are well aware that some requirements for board oversight on governance and operations are seen as overly demanding, but there is no replacement for critical documentation of board votes and board discussion on financial matters.” Kalwinski further stated, “We applaud steps that the Ventura County Community Foundation has taken by seeking guidance and assistance from the California Attorney General’s office. State regulators can provide support to help foundations navigate the complexities of the law in your state and help inform decisions for boards as they work through decisions or issues that arise.” National Standards was created in the early 2000s as a self-regulation program to ensure integrity and operational excellence. Since 2008, the Community Foundations National Standards Board — made up of 13 elected and highly regarded community foundation leaders — has administered the National Standards program. In 2015, the standards program shifted from requiring accreditation be reconfirmed every five years to an annual recertification process. The Community Foundations National Standards Board has been in regular communication with the League of California Community Foundations’ CEO Patricia Jones, and the National Standards Board and Council on Foundations staff has been made available to provide support, as needed. To date, over 500 community foundations are using National Standards to establish legal, ethical, and effective practices that withstand the scrutiny of donors, government, and media. National Standards has and will continue to raise the bar on excellence in community philanthropy and help philanthropists identify stable and legally sound places to give and make a difference. To re-familiarize yourself with the accreditation requirements and review process, visit cfstandards.org/process.

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