Organizational Standards

Organizational Standards

This webpage links resources developed by CAPLAW to specific Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) Organizational Standards to help Community Action Agencies (CAAs) in their compliance efforts. All of the resources developed by the national Community Action Partnership on the Standards are available on its website

Note: CAPLAW is in the process of revising some of its resources pursuant to updates in the law; however, the concepts in these resources generally remain applicable.

Private The organization demonstrates low-income individuals’ participation in its activities.
Public The department demonstrates low-income individuals’ participation in its activities.
Private The organization analyzes information collected directly from low-income individuals as part of the community assessment.  
Public The department analyzes information collected directly from low-income individuals as part of the community assessment.
Private The organization has a systematic approach for collecting, analyzing, and reporting customer satisfaction data to the governing board.  
Public The department has a systematic approach for collecting, analyzing, and reporting customer satisfaction data to the tripartite board/advisory body, which may be met through broader local government processes.
CAPLAW Resource: Tools for Top-Notch CAAs. This six-section Tool is intended to assist boards and management in their collaborative efforts to build well-governed and effective CAAs. Section 1. Making Board Meetings Matter of this Tool addresses the structure of board meetings and provides some guidance as to the content and timing of both financial and programmatic reports to the board.
Private The organization has documented or demonstrated partnerships across the community, for specifically identified purposes; partnerships include other anti-poverty organizations in the area.
Public The department has documented or demonstrated partnerships across the community, for specifically identified purposes; partnerships include other anti-poverty organizations in the area.
Private The organization utilizes information gathered from key sectors of the community in assessing needs and resources, during the community assessment process or other times. These sectors would include at minimum: community-based organizations, faith-based organizations, private sector, public sector, and educational institutions.
Public The department utilizes information gathered from key sectors of the community in assessing needs and resources, during the community assessment process or other times. These sectors would include at minimum: community-based organizations, faith-based organizations, private sector, public sector, and educational institutions.
Private The organization communicates its activities and its results to the community.
Public The department communicates its activities and its results to the community.
Private The organization documents the number of volunteers and hours mobilized in support of its activities.
Public The department documents the number of volunteers and hours mobilized in support of its activities.
CAPLAW Resource: CAPLAW Sample Social Media Policy. When communicating its activities and results to the community, the CAA must comply with its existing policies. For example, if the CAA is communicating information via social media websites, it will need to follow its social media policy. If a CAA does not have a social media policy, it should consider working with an attorney to develop one and may begin the process using CAPLAW’s sample social media policy.
Private The organization conducted a community assessment and issued a report within the past 3 years.
Public The department conducted or was engaged in a community assessment and issued a report within the past 3 years, if no other report exists.
Private As part of the community assessment, the organization collects and includes current data specific to poverty and its prevalence related to gender, age, and race/ethnicity for their service area(s).
Public As part of the community assessment, the department collects and includes current data specific to poverty and its prevalence related to gender, age, and race/ethnicity for its service area(s).
Private The organization collects and analyzes both qualitative and quantitative data on its geographic service area(s) in the community assessment.
Public The department collects and analyzes both qualitative and quantitative data on its geographic service area(s) in the community assessment.
Private The community assessment includes key findings on the causes and conditions of poverty and the needs of the communities assessed.
Public The community assessment includes key findings on the causes and conditions of poverty and the needs of the communities assessed.
Private The governing board formally accepts the completed community assessment.
Public The tripartite board/advisory body formally accepts the completed community assessment.
Partnership Resource: Comprehensive Community Needs Assessment Online Tool. This tool is intended to help a CAA with several aspects of its community needs assessment and does so by allowing users to: select state(s) and county(ies) to be included in its report; select specific data elements; preview a draft report; download a full, editable draft report; and incorporate advanced uses including mapping specific poverty indicators to extended geographies such as census tract and congressional district.
CAPLAW Resource: Tools for Top-Notch CAAs. This six-section Tool is intended to assist boards and management in their collaborative efforts to build well-governed and effective CAAs. Section 1. Making Board Meetings Matter of this Tool addresses the structure of board meetings and provides some guidance as to board meeting mechanics such as the process around voting to accept reports.
Private The governing board has reviewed the organization’s mission statement within the past 5 years and assured that: 1. The mission addresses poverty; and 2. The organization’s programs and services are in alignment with the mission.
Public The tripartite board/advisory body has reviewed the department’s mission statement within the past 5 years and assured that: 1. The mission addresses poverty; and 2. The CSBG programs and services are in alignment with the mission.
Resources Organizational Standard 4.1 states that the Board reviews the organization’s mission statement within the last 5 years and ensures that it addresses poverty and the programs and services of the agency align with it. While the minimum requirement is the review, the Board has a fundamental duty to set the mission and direction of the organization. Watch this webinar to learn about meeting this standard, as well as leveraging Strategic Planning (Category 6) and promising practices to move beyond compliance. Association of Nationally Certified ROMA Trainers and Implementers presents.

Presentation: The Board’s Role in Setting the Mission & Direction of the CAA

Handouts: The Board’s Role in Setting the Mission & Direction of the CAA

Private The organization’s Community Action plan is outcome-based, anti-poverty focused, and ties directly to the community assessment.


Public The department’s Community Action plan is outcome-based, anti-poverty focused, and ties directly to the community assessment.

Private The organization’s Community Action plan and strategic plan document the continuous use of the full Results Oriented Management and Accountability (ROMA) cycle or comparable system (assessment, planning, implementation, achievement of results, and evaluation). In addition, the organization documents having used the services of a ROMA-certified trainer (or equivalent) to assist in implementation.
Public The department’s Community Action plan and strategic plan document the continuous use of the full Result Oriented Management and Accountability (ROMA) cycle or comparable system (assessment, planning, implementation, achievement of results, and evaluation). In addition, the department documents having used the services of a ROMA-certified trainer (or equivalent) to assist in implementation.
Private The governing board receives an annual update on the success of specific strategies included in the Community Action plan.
Public The tripartite board/advisory body receives an annual update on the success of specific strategies included in the Community Action plan.
Private The organization has a written succession plan in place for the CEO/ED, approved by the governing board, which contains procedures for covering an emergency/unplanned, short-term absence of 3 months or less, as well as outlines the process for filling a permanent vacancy.
Public The department adheres to its local government’s policies and procedures around interim appointments and processes for filling a permanent vacancy.
Private An organization-wide, comprehensive risk assessment has been completed within the past 2 years and reported to the governing board.
Public The department complies with its local government’s risk assessment policies and procedures.
Resources Organizational Standard 4.6 requires an organization-wide, comprehensive risk assessment to be done every two years and reported to the governing board. While the minimum requirement is the assessment and reporting to the board, it requires action and follow-up by the agency to benefit from the assessment. Watch this webinar to learn about meeting this standard, as well as risk management tools, resources, and promising practices to move beyond compliance. Melanie Herman, Executive Director of the Nonprofit Risk Management Center presents.

Presentation: From Risk Assessment to Comprehensive Risk Management

Handouts: BCP Worksheet Suite – Fillable PDF
Risk Assessment Action Plan Worksheet
CAPLAW Resource:

Mission Possible: Understanding & Developing an Effective Mission Statement, Fall 2010 CAPLAW Update. This article offers a CAA board a process by which it may assess and revise its organization’s mission statement.

Tools for Top-Notch CAAs. This six-section Tool is intended to assist boards and management in their collaborative efforts to build well-governed and effective CAAs. Section 1 Making Board Meetings Matter of the Tool discusses the structure of board meetings and provides some guidance as to when and how annual updates discussions may occur in a meeting.

Do the Right Thing: How to Cultivate a Culture of Compliance and High Ethical Standards, (2016 edition). This Guide demonstrates – through interviews with CAAs, links to resources from compliance and ethics experts, and sample documents – practical steps CAA boards and management can take to ensure that their organizations operate effectively and in compliance with the many requirements that apply to them.
Partnership Resource: The following webinars address planning tools for executive transitions, leadership succession models, development programs for future leaders, and organizational sustainability: The following Toolkits offer planning tools for executive transitions, leadership succession models, development programs for future leaders, and organizational sustainability: Preparing for Your Community Action Agency’s Future: Sustainability, Succession and Transition
Nonprofit Risk Management Center Tool and Resources (2015). This resource provides CAAs with a comprehensive risk assessment tool along with risk management policies and resources.  
CAPLAW/Partnership Resource: CAA Leader’s Legal Guide (2016). This Guide provides CAA leaders with an overview of the many legal requirements they will work with on a regular basis. Chapter Three: Financial Management of Federal Grants of the Guide includes a brief discussion of internal controls and links to internal controls resources.
Private The organization’s governing board is structured in compliance with the CSBG Act:

1. At least one-third democratically-selected representatives of the low-income community; 2. One-third local elected officials (or their representatives); and 3. The remaining membership from major groups and interests in the community.


Public The department’s tripartite board/advisory body is structured in compliance with the CSBG Act, by either:

1. Selecting the board members as follows:

  • At least one third are democratically-selected representatives of the low-income community;
  • One-third are local elected officials (or their representatives); and
  • The remaining members are from major groups and interests in the community; or

2. Selecting the board through another mechanism specified by the State to assure decision-making and participation by low-income individuals in the development, planning, implementation, and evaluation of programs.

Private The organization’s governing board has written procedures that document a democratic selection process for low-income board members adequate to assure that they are representative of the low-income community. Public The department’s tripartite board/advisory body either has: 1. Written procedures that document a democratic selection process for low-income board members adequate to assure that they are representative of the low-income community, or 2. Another mechanism specified by the State to assure decision-making and participation by low-income individuals in the development, planning, implementation, and evaluation of programs.

Please note under IM 82 for Public Entities the law also requires that a minimum of 1/3 of tripartite board membership be comprised of representatives of low-income individuals and families who reside in areas served.
Private The organization’s bylaws have been reviewed by an attorney within the past 5 years.
Public Not applicable: Review of bylaws by an attorney is outside of the purview of the department and the tripartite board/advisory body, therefore this standard does not apply to public entities.
Private The organization documents that each governing board member has received a copy of the bylaws within the past 2 years.
Public The department documents that each tripartite board/advisory body member has received a copy of the governing documents, within the past 2 years.
Private The organization’s governing board meets in accordance with the frequency and quorum requirements and fills board vacancies as set out in its bylaws.
Public The department’s tripartite board/advisory body meets in accordance with the frequency and quorum requirements and fills board vacancies as set out in its governing documents.
Resources Organizational Standard 5.5 requires the governing board or advisory body to meet in accordance with the frequency and quorum requirements, as well as fill board vacancies as set in the bylaws. This standard in particular can often present more of a challenge during times of crisis or inability to meet in-person, such as the COVID-19 Pandemic. Board training and orientation (standards 5.7 and 5.8) can present similar challenges. Many Community Action Agencies (CAAs) have adapted to continue to meet these standards and develop creative strategies to effectively govern during challenging times. Watch this webinar with CAPLAW to learn more about covering board meetings during COVID-19, including virtual meetings and compliance with open meeting laws – including specific CAA examples.

Presentation: Effective Governance Despite Challenging Times

Handouts: HCCT ProAction Case Study
NKCAC Case Study
Private Each governing board member has signed a conflict of interest policy within the past 2 years.
Public Each tripartite board/advisory body member has signed a conflict of interest policy, or comparable local government document, within the past 2 years.
Private The organization has a process to provide a structured orientation for governing board members within 6 months of being seated.
Public The department has a process to provide a structured orientation for tripartite board/advisory body members within 6 months of being seated.
Private Governing board members have been provided with training on their duties and responsibilities within the past 2 years.
Public Tripartite board/advisory body members have been provided with training on their duties and responsibilities within the past 2 years.
Private The organization’s governing board receives programmatic reports at each regular board meeting.
Public The department’s tripartite board/advisory body receives programmatic reports at each regular board/advisory meeting.
Private The organization has an agency-wide strategic plan in place that has been approved by the governing board within the past 5 years.
Public The department has a strategic plan, or comparable planning document, in place that has been reviewed and accepted by the tripartite board/advisory body within the past 5 years. If the department does not have a plan, the tripartite board/advisory body will develop the plan.
Private The approved strategic plan addresses reduction of poverty, revitalization of low-income communities, and/or empowerment of people with low incomes to become more self-sufficient.
Public The approved strategic plan, or comparable planning document, addresses the reduction of poverty, revitalization of low-income communities, and/or empowerment of people with low incomes to become more self-sufficient.
Private The approved strategic plan contains family, agency, and/or community goals.
Public The approved strategic plan, or comparable planning document, contains family, agency, and/or community goals.
Private Customer satisfaction data and customer input, collected as part of the community assessment, is included in the strategic planning process.
Public Customer satisfaction data and customer input, collected as part of the community assessment, is included in the strategic planning process, or comparable planning process.
Private The governing board has received an update(s) on progress meeting the goals of the strategic plan within the past 12 months.
Public The tripartite board/advisory body has received an update(s) on progress meeting the goals of the strategic plan/comparable planning document within the past 12 months.
Resources

Organizational Standards 6.5 and 9.3 focus on reporting progress toward strategic plan goals (6.5), as well as an analysis of outcomes and associated adjustments to the board on at least an annual basis. While the minimum requirement is to report this information once a year, there are ways to involve the Board and communicate the information clearly so they can better fulfill their role of governance and oversight. Watch this webinar to learn about meeting this standard, as well as utilizing a scorecard or dashboard to organize and communicate data, as well as other promising practices to move beyond compliance. Barbara Mooney from the Association of Nationally Certified ROMA Trainers presents. Handouts
Slides: Evaluating Strategic Plan Progress with Agency-Wide Scorecards
Private The organization has written personnel policies that have been reviewed by an attorney and approved by the governing board within the past 5 years.
Public Not applicable: Local governmental personnel policies are outside of the purview of the department and the tripartite board/ advisory body, therefore this standard does not apply to public entities.
Private The organization makes available the employee handbook (or personnel policies in cases without a handbook) to all staff and notifies staff of any changes.
Public The department follows local governmental policies in making available the employee handbook (or personnel policies in cases without a handbook) to all staff and in notifying staff of any changes.
Private The organization has written job descriptions for all positions, which have been updated within the past 5 years.
Public The department has written job descriptions for all positions. Updates may be outside of the purview of the department.
Private The governing board conducts a performance appraisal of the CEO/executive director within each calendar year.
Public The department follows local government procedures for performance appraisal of the department head.
Private The governing board reviews and approves CEO/executive director compensation within every calendar year.
Public The compensation of the department head is made available according to local government procedure.
Private The organization has a policy in place for regular written evaluation of employees by their supervisors.
Public The department follows local governmental policies for regular written evaluation of employees by their supervisors.
Private The organization has a whistleblower policy that has been approved by the governing board.
Public The department provides a copy of any existing local government whistleblower policy to members of the tripartite board/advisory body at the time of orientation.
Private All staff participate in a new employee orientation within 60 days of hire.
Public The department follows local governmental policies for new employee orientation.
Private The organization conducts or makes available staff development/training (including ROMA) on an ongoing basis.
Public The department conducts or makes available staff development/training (including ROMA) on an ongoing basis.
Private The organization’s annual audit (or audited financial statements) is completed by a Certified Public Accountant on time in accordance with Title 2 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Uniform Administration Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirement (if applicable) and/or State audit threshold requirements.
Public The department’s annual audit is completed through the local governmental process in accordance with Title 2 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Uniform Administrative Requirements, Cost Principles, and Audit Requirement (if applicable) and/or State audit threshold requirements. This may be included in the municipal entity’s full audit.
Private All findings from the prior year’s annual audit have been assessed by the organization and addressed where the governing board has deemed it appropriate.
Public The department follows local government procedures in addressing any audit findings related to CSBG funding.
Private The organization’s auditor presents the audit to the governing board.
Public The department’s tripartite board/advisory body is notified of the availability of the local government audit.
Private The governing board formally receives and accepts the audit.
Public The department’s tripartite board/advisory body is notified of any findings related to CSBG funding.
Private The organization has solicited bids for its audit within the past 5 years.
Public Not applicable: The audit bid process is outside of the purview of tripartite board/advisory body therefore this standard does not apply to public entities.
Private The IRS Form 990 is completed annually and made available to the governing board for review.
Public Not applicable: The Federal tax reporting process for local governments is outside of the purview of tripartite board/advisory body therefore this standard does not apply to public entities.
Private The governing board receives financial reports at each regular meeting that include the following:

1. Organization-wide report on revenue and expenditures that compares budget to actual, categorized by program; and 2. Balance sheet/statement of financial position.


Public The tripartite board/advisory body receives financial reports at each regular meeting, for those program(s) the body advises, as allowed by local government procedure.
Private All required filings and payments related to payroll withholdings are completed on time.
Public Not applicable: The payroll withholding process for local governments is outside of the purview of the department, therefore this standard does not apply to public entities.
Private The governing board annually approves an organization-wide budget.
Public The tripartite board/advisory body has input as allowed by local governmental procedure into the CSBG budget process.
Private The fiscal policies have been reviewed by staff within the past 2 years, updated as necessary, with changes approved by the governing board.
Public Not applicable: The fiscal policies for local governments are outside of the purview of the department and the tripartite board/advisory body, therefore this standard does not apply to public entities.
Private A written procurement policy is in place and has been reviewed by the governing board within the past 5 years.
Public Not applicable: Local governmental procurement policies are outside of the purview of the department and the tripartite board/advisory body, therefore this standard does not apply to public entities.
Private The organization documents how it allocates shared costs through an indirect cost rate or through a written cost allocation plan.
Public Not applicable: A written cost allocation plan is outside of the purview of the department and the tripartite board/advisory body, therefore this standard does not apply to public entities.
Private The organization has a written policy in place for record retention and destruction.
Public The department follows local governmental policies for document retention and destruction.
Private The organization has a system or systems in place to track and report client demographics and services customers receive.
Public The department has a system or systems in place to track and report client demographics and services customers receive.
Private The organization has a system or systems in place to track family, agency, and/or community outcomes.
Public The department has a system or systems in place to track family, agency, and/or community outcomes.
Private The organization has presented to the governing board for review or action, at least within the past 12 months, an analysis of the agency’s outcomes and any operational or strategic program adjustments and improvements identified as necessary.
Public The department has presented to the tripartite board/advisory body for review or action, at least within the past 12 months, an analysis of the agency’s outcomes and any operational or strategic program adjustments and improvements identified as necessary.
Resources Organizational Standards 6.5 and 9.3 focus on reporting progress toward strategic plan goals (6.5), as well as an analysis of outcomes and associated adjustments to the board on at least an annual basis. While the minimum requirement is to report this information once a year, there are ways to involve the Board and communicate the information clearly so they can better fulfill their role of governance and oversight. Watch this webinar to learn about meeting this standard, as well as utilizing a scorecard or dashboard to organize and communicate data, as well as other promising practices to move beyond compliance. Barbara Mooney from the Association of Nationally Certified ROMA Trainers presents. Handouts Slides: Evaluating Strategic Plan Progress with Agency-Wide Scorecards
Private The organization submits its annual CSBG Information Survey data report and it reflects client demographics and organization-wide outcomes.
Public The department submits its annual CSBG Information Survey data report and it reflects client demographics and CSBG-funded outcomes.

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