Why Accreditation Matters

Welcome to the third installment of the Everyday Philanthropist. This month we celebrate an incredible milestone as the foundation received accreditation by the National Standards for U.S. Community Foundations. Jennifer Pfeffer, MAF Board Member, shares what this means to the foundation and the people we serve.

At MAF, we believe that anyone has the ability to share their community for good and experience the joy of giving. Please sit down, get comfortable and enjoy this issue of the Everyday Philanthropist.

Jennifer Pfeffer, a Licensed Health Services Executive, has devoted her career to advancing the care of elderly people across the state of MN, and now nationally in her new role as the National Director of Operations for The Goodman Group. She has served on numerous non-profit boards locally and is the current chair of Mankato Area Foundation’s Strategic and Governance Committee.

What does it mean to be accredited by the National Standards for U.S. Community Foundations?

The Mankato Area Foundation (MAF) is being recognized daily as a trusted way for donors to connect and contribute to their favorite charities in the area. Becoming a trusted resource occurs when board members and foundation staff intentionally build an organization based on accountability, transparency and excellence. In 2021, MAF made the decision to earn the National Standards Accreditation Seal for community foundations, a rigorous assessment process using an outside-peer review assuring the highest level of federal and state regulations. It takes months of committed work to ensure these high standards are in place. I am thrilled to report MAF achieved their National Standards Seal on January 15th, 2023! A distinction of the highest bar. Our donors now have the added assurance MAF has met the same benchmarks for quality and service as other top notch community foundations in the U.S.

Why does accreditation matter?

Most donors want assurance that their gifts are wisely utilized and meet IRS standards. In recent years, unfortunately, some charities have received increased scrutiny. We want to assure donors MAF has all the necessary safeguards in place today and going forward. Obtaining this accreditation does just this. This accreditation is not a one-time event. National Standards staff meet with policy makers and regulators on an ongoing basis to review current and new standards while noting the rigors of the program and the degree of self-regulation. Feedback on this approach by regulators has been positive. Again, donors and grant recipients can trust MAF has set the bar high and is committed to compliance in all areas of the organization.

Are all community foundations accredited?

No. However, 92% of the nation’s largest community foundations do participate. Today, over 500 community foundations are accredited in the U.S. Due to MAF’s growth in recent years, it was time to take this important next step. Again, accreditation brings added credibility to MAF’s mission today and into the future.

How does it feel to be a part of the process and receive accreditation?

The MAF staff, under Nancy Zallek’s leadership, needs to take the lion’s share of the credit by getting this goal across the finish line. While the board wholeheartedly supported the initiative and stayed on top of the process, it was the foundation team who drove the initiative. There were necessary daily steps, policies to fine-tune and constant review that practices were in alignment to meet all the accreditation standards. The MAF board could not be prouder of the staff’s work and outcome.

On a personal note, what is your favorite MAF project or initiative?

One benefit of being on the MAF Board is getting a front row seat to all the amazing work accomplished in the region through the partnerships and relationships supported by the foundation. Consequently, it is hard to pick just one. However, I’d like to first recognize the foundation’s extraordinary efforts during the COVID 19 pandemic. They quickly pivoted, raised funds and provided support where needed. Secondly, I would highlight the work done at MAF to convene our area non-profits to help them plan strategically for their collective futures. This kind of action and thinking helps our community continue to thrive even when times are uncertain.