Community Foundations

Community foundations are grantmaking public charities that are dedicated to improving the lives of people in a defined local geographic area. They bring together the financial resources of individuals, families, and businesses to support effective nonprofits in their communities. Community foundations vary widely in asset size, ranging from less than $100,000 to more than $1.7 billion.

Community foundations play a key role in identifying and solving community problems. In 2011, they gave an estimated $4.3 billion to a variety of nonprofit activities in fields that included the arts and education, health and human services, the environment, and disaster relief. The Community Foundations National Standards Board confirms operational excellence in six key areas—mission, structure, and governance; resource development; stewardship and accountability; grantmaking and community leadership; donor relations; and communications. Foundations that comply with these standards can display the official National Standards Seal. Right now nearly 500 community foundations have earned the seal.

More than 750 community foundations operate in urban and rural areas in every state in the United States; currently, more than 570 belong to the Council on Foundations. The community foundation model also has taken hold around the world. According to the 2010 Community Foundation Global Status Report, there are 1,680 community foundations in 51 countries. Forty-six percent exist outside of the United States. You can use our Community Foundation Locator to view a list of community foundations in the United States.

Below is everything on our site for community foundations. You can use the filtering options on the right to narrow these results.

This flow chart was designed by the Community Foundation of Louisville to describe the process of evaluating, processing, and making impact investments in their community. It follows a similar model developed by the Greater Cincinnati Community Foundation, which is discussed in the Community Foundation Field Guide to Impact Investment.

This guide, published by Confluence Philanthropy, focuses on how a foundation can leverage its assets in service of its mission by investing cash locally through community-based financing. It reviews the different types of depositories, as well as the steps on how to get started carrying your cash, and also features two foundation case studies.

In 2009, Blue Shield of California Foundation learned of the increasingly high rates and devastating impacts of domestic violence among military families. Given the incredible stress these families had endured after more than a decade at war, the findings were difficult to hear, but not surprising. Thankfully, we were in a position to do more than just listen.

The Philanthropy-Joining Forces Impact Pledge today announced more than $106 million in new commitments to strengthen services and support for millions of veterans and military families throughout America. Six new grantmakers joined more than 30 philanthropic organizations and corporations that made the Impact Pledge since 2014.

Since last year’s Impact Pledge announcement of $170,000,000, an additional $106,225,000 has been committed (both cash and in-kind), bringing the total to $276,225,000. These new Impact Pledge members include:

This Memorial Day takes on new significance for the philanthropic sector as we take our commitment to veterans and their families to another level.

The Orcas Island Community Foundation (OICF) is a small but mighty foundation. In 2011, with assets of $4 million spread across 70+ funds, we had outgrown our ‘off the shelf’ bookkeeping software, spending over half of our precious staff time on accounting. We struggled with finding right sized technology. Like Goldilocks, the existing programs just did not fit, being too cumbersome, too complicated, and far too expensive. Not a recipe for growth.

The Council on Foundations applauds Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) for introducing The Public Good IRA Rollover Act of 2015 (S.1159). This measure would make permanent and expand the IRA charitable rollover, a valuable incentive for Americans to contribute to charitable organizations across the country their mandatory distributions from IRA accounts. The Council is also grateful for Senator Susan Collins’ (R-ME) co-sponsorship and support.

On April 25, 2015 a 7.8 magnitude earthquake occurred in Nepal, in an area between the capitol city of Kathmandu and the city of Pokhara, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Tremors and aftershocks were felt across the region in India, Bangladesh, Tibet and on Mount Everest. As the world has watched the devastation unfold, the question “what should I do?” has been repeated.

Civil Society in America faces the challenge of storytelling. Democracy thrives on the free availability of information and viewpoints. We must guard against hegemony that stifles innovation and protect voices of the marginalized. To do so, we should ensure that everyone's story is told.