Executive Summary


The Cummings Foundation for Behavioral Health (CFBH) is a nonprofit organization that pursues innovative opportunities to advance professional psychology and behavioral healthcare in ways that positively impact society.


To lead the advancement of behavioral healthcare through research, education, and community service.


CFBH and its staff believe we can create societal change through innovative research and education. This sense of hope drives our desire to use principles of human behavior to answer the questions arising from present-day social issues.

As we achieve our mission, we maintain honesty and integrity with our community, donors, board, staff, volunteers, collaborators, and the government.

We are committed to ethical practice that benefits and does not harm those we serve.


CFBH is a philanthropic non-profit organization that provides and supports empirically supported services to its recipients and education to individuals within the behavioral health sector.

Principles for Good Governance and Ethical Practice

Legal Compliance and Public Disclosure

  1. A charitable organization must comply with all applicable federal laws and regulations, as well as applicable laws and regulations of the states and the local jurisdictions in which it is based or operates. If the organization conducts programs outside the United States, it must also abide by applicable international laws, regulations, and conventions that are legally binding on the United States.
  2. A charitable organization should have a formally adopted, written code of ethics that all of its directors or trustees, staff, and volunteers are familiar with and adhere to.
  3. A charitable organization should adopt and implement policies and procedures to ensure that all conflicts of interest, or the appearance thereof, within the organization and the board, are appropriately managed through disclosure, recusal, or other means.
  4. A charitable organization should establish and implement policies and procedures that enable individuals to come forward with information on illegal practices or violations of organizational policies. This “whistleblower” policy should specify that the organization will not retaliate against and will protect the confidentiality of individuals who make good-faith reports.
  5. A charitable organization should establish and implement policies and procedures to protect and preserve the organization’s important documents and business records.
  6. A charitable organization’s board should ensure that the organization has adequate plans to protect its assets—its property, financial and human resources, programmatic content and material, and its integrity and reputation—against damage or loss. The board should review regularly the organization’s need for general liability and directors’ and officers’ liability insurance, as well as take other actions necessary to mitigate risks.
  7. A charitable organization should make information about its operations, including its governance, finances, programs, and activities, widely available to the public. Charitable organizations also should consider making information available on the methods they use to evaluate the outcomes of their work and sharing the results of those evaluations.

Effective Governance

  1. A charitable organization must have a governing body that is responsible for reviewing and approving the organization’s mission and strategic direction, annual budget, and key financial transactions, compensation practices and policies, and fiscal and governance policies.
  2. The board of a charitable organization should meet regularly enough to conduct its business and fulfill its duties.
  3. The board of a charitable organization should establish its size and structure and review these periodically. The board should have enough members for full deliberation and diversity of thinking on governance and other organizational matters.
  4. The board of a charitable organization should include members with diverse backgrounds (including, but not limited to, ethnic, racial, and gender perspectives), experience, and organizational and financial skills necessary to advance the organization’s mission.
  5. Independent members should not: (1) be compensated by the organization as employees or independent contractors; (2) have their compensation determined by individuals who are compensated by the organization; (3) receive, directly or indirectly, material financial benefits from the organization except as a member of the charitable class served by the organization; or (4) be related to anyone described above (as a spouse, sibling, parent, or child) or reside with any person so described.
  6. The board should hire, oversee, and annually evaluate the performance of the organization’s chief executive officer and should conduct such an evaluation before any change in that officer’s compensation unless there is a multi-year contract in force or the change consists solely of routine adjustments for inflation or the cost of living.
  7. The board of a charitable organization with paid staff should ensure that the positions of chief staff officer, board chair, and board treasurer are held by separate individuals. Organizations without paid staff should also ensure that the positions of board chair and treasurer are held by separate individuals.
  8. The board should establish a practical, systematic process for educating and communicating with board members to ensure that they know their legal and ethical responsibilities, know about the organization’s programs and activities and can carry out their oversight functions effectively.
  9. Board members should evaluate their performance as a group and as individuals no less frequently than every three years and should have clear procedures for removing board members who cannot fulfill their responsibilities.
  10. The board should establish clear policies and procedures setting the length of terms and the number of consecutive terms a board member may serve.
  11. The board should review organizational and governing instruments no less frequently than every five years.
  12. The board should regularly establish and review the organization’s mission and goals and evaluate its programs, goals, and activities no less frequently than every five years to ensure it advances its mission and prudently uses its resources.
  13. Board members are generally expected to serve without compensation other than reimbursement for expenses incurred to fulfill their board duties. A charitable organization that provides compensation to its board members should use appropriate comparability data to determine the amount to be paid, document the decision, and fully disclose the amount and rationale for the compensation to anyone upon request.

Strong Financial Oversight

21. A charitable organization must keep complete, current, and accurate financial records. Its board should receive and review timely reports of the organization’s financial activities and should have a qualified, independent financial expert audit or review these statements annually in a manner appropriate to the organization’s size and scale of operations.

22. The board of a charitable organization must institute policies and procedures to ensure that the organization (and, if applicable, its subsidiaries) manages and invests its funds responsibly under all legal requirements. The board should review and approve the organization’s annual budget and monitor actual performance against the budget.

23. A charitable organization should not provide loans (or the equivalent, such as loan guarantees, purchasing or transferring ownership of a residence or office, or relieving a debt or lease obligation) to directors, officers, or trustees.

24. A charitable organization should spend a significant percentage of its annual budget on programs that pursue its mission. The budget should also provide sufficient resources for effective organization administration and, if it solicits contributions, for appropriate fundraising activities.

25. A charitable organization should establish clear, written policies for paying or reimbursing expenses incurred by anyone conducting business or traveling on behalf of the organization. These policies should include the types of expenses that can be paid for or reimbursed, as well as the documentation required. Such policies should require that travel on behalf of the organization be undertaken cost-effectively.

26. A charitable organization should neither pay for nor reimburse travel expenditures for spouses, dependents or others accompanying someone conducting business for the organization unless they are also conducting such business.   

Responsible Fundraising

  1. Solicitation materials and other communications addressed to donors and the public must clearly identify the organization and be accurate and truthful.
  2. Contributions must be used for purposes consistent with the donor’s intent, as described in the relevant solicitation materials or as explicitly directed by the donor.
  3. A charitable organization must provide donors with specific acknowledgments of charitable contributions under IRS requirements and information to facilitate the donors’ compliance with tax law requirements.
  4. A charitable organization should adopt clear policies based on its specific exempt purpose to determine whether accepting a gift would compromise its ethics, financial circumstances, program focus, or other interests.
  5. A charitable organization should provide appropriate training and supervision of the people soliciting funds on its behalf to ensure that they understand their responsibilities and applicable federal, state, and local laws and do not employ techniques that are coercive, intimidating, or intended to harass potential donors.
  6. A charitable organization should not compensate internal or external fundraisers based on a commission or a percentage of the amount raised.
  7. A charitable organization should respect the privacy of individual donors and, except where disclosure is required by law, should not sell or otherwise make available the names and contact information of its donors without providing them an opportunity at least once a year to opt out of the use of their names.