High Standards

We don’t talk much here about the often boring nuts and bolts of operating our public charity. Quoting IRS codes or calling ourselves a 501(c)(3) is a little dry for our taste. But behind the scenes, our expert administrative director Maria O’Connor makes sure, with the help of our volunteer board of directors, that we carry out all of our transactions and affairs in adherence to the highest standards for a community foundation.

As a result your Owen County Community Foundation has again been certified as in compliance with the National Standards for U.S. Community Foundations®.

The National Standards for U.S. Community Foundations® accreditation program represents a community foundation’s commitment to go above and beyond federal and state law requirements to demonstrate accountability and excellence to communities, policymakers, and the public.

We spend a bit of money and a lot Maria’s time on this process, but we think it’s very important to be able to show our donors, our non-profit partners, and our community that we take very seriously the responsibility to conduct ourselves to the highest standards in our industry. We want people to rest assured that when they make a gift to your OCCF or enter into a grant agreement with us that we are worthy of their trust.

For your OCCF to retain our accreditation, we must meet and remain compliant with the standards around the following key areas of excellence:

Structure and Governance – reflecting the independence and integrity of our board of directors and staff in managing our operations and assets.

Resource Development – making sure we have a healthy revenue stream that represents the diversity of citizen support.

Accountability – assuring that your OCCF complies with accountable financial recordkeeping and reporting disciplines and prudent investing practices.

Grantmaking – determining that the OCCF responds to community needs and uses grant funds only for qualified charitable purposes.

Community Engagement – assuring that we demonstrate leadership and outreach to the community.

Through the certification process we are required to show the standards reviewers that we are in good standing with federal and state regulators and are categorized by the IRS under sections 501(c)(3), 501(a)(1), and 170(b)(1)(a)(vi). See I told you this is scintillating stuff!

The review process is pretty rigorous. We supply copies of our policies and procedures on a variety of topics to ensure that we’re using the community foundation industry’s best practices. We subject ourselves to a detailed review and can be visited by the review team. There have been a few instances where organizations have been investigated for non-compliance and there have been several investigations that led to revocation of accreditation. So, there is real oversight.

Some issues that reviewers are especially interested in lately are excess compensation (an issue I know donors are concerned about), conflicts of interest, and boards being unaware of what is reported on the form 990, our annual tax filing. In Indiana, our state legislature has included compliance with national standards as part of what defines a true community foundation.

This process is important to your OCCF. We want to make sure we’re using best practices. All of the requirements, while difficult to maintain and a little tedious to report, are crucial to our service to Owen County. We want high standards so we choose to comply for our own health and reputation.

We’re proud of the work Maria has put into our re-certification and recognized her accomplishments at our last board of directors meeting. If you’re interested in hearing more, just ask away.

Thanks for reading. I promise no more IRS code discussions . . . until we get re-certified again in a few years.

Your Owen County Community Foundation is committed to helping our Owen County communities become better places to live, grow, and work. We value community involvement and charitable spirit – and have high standards for ethics and our operations.

If you’d like to know more about how you can work with this local charity to improve our Owen County communities, give me a call at 812-829-1725, email me at mark@owencountycf.org, visit us online at owencountycf.org, or stop by and visit us in person at our office on the Courthouse Square in Spencer, 60 E. Market Street.

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