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. We highly recommend that you use the navigation or our search feature to find what you're looking for on our site.

In this Week’s Edition of Snapshot…

  • Tax Reform Update: House Republicans face growing opposition to border adjustability
  • Charitable Giving Coalition Spends Day Fighting for the Charitable Deduction on Capitol Hill
  • IRS makes 1023-EZ data available online
  • In the States: State budgets (in brief), and States consider contracting reform commissions

Council President and CEO Vikki Spruill sat down with Philanthropy Hour’s Greg Cherry for an intimate conversation about the impact and value of American philanthropy and the Council on Foundations' role in advancing the common good.

Hear what Vikki considers to be trending in the field, what motivates giving, and some of the exciting work the Council is doing around impact investing and endowments — just stream the 40-minute podcast now.

Join the Philanthropy Caucus for a social reception to conclude Foundations on the Hill. Network with representatives from a variety of charitable foundations and organizations, lawmakers, and Congressional staff in an event to recognize the role of philanthropy as a unique stakeholder in collective efforts to address some of today's toughest challenges.

In this Week’s Edition of Snapshot…

  • Tax Reform Update: Mnuchin confirmed as Treasury Secretary, Bishop names to Ways & Means, Trump Administration working on a tax overhaul plan, Congress aims to keep tax reform train on track
  • IRS seeks to understand how the regulatory ban will impact its work
  • Council Hosts Collaborative Meeting with Federal Agencies and Philanthropic Stakeholders
  • U.S. nonprofits working abroad face financial difficulties, according to a new study

Join us to better understand how President Trump's Executive Order 13769, Protecting the Nation from Terrorist Attacks by Foreign Nationals, may impact your foundation's work domestically and globally.

The nature of disruption has been on my mind recently. Our friends at the Greater New Orleans Foundation are coordinating a Helping our Neighbors: Tornado Relief Fund to alleviate the devastation of numerous tornadoes last week. They mobilized quickly to help pave the way for philanthropy to make a difference in a time of need.

Over the past several months, Council staff have held conversations with foundation leaders who are grappling with how to understand philanthropy’s role as the new Administration challenges the way our country has traditionally operated. The pace with which significant changes are proposed and executed is making it difficult for even the best strategic jugglers to know how, if, or when to react. Most will admit that these are unusual times. Some describe what’s happening as a shock to the system, sending waves of confusion through organizations and around the globe.

With the pace of change in our world, disruption is a natural state in communities everywhere. Change is the new normal. So how do community foundations, institutions of long-standing tradition and influential in how communities address change, adapt themselves to the new normal? Competitive advantage flows to the organizations that see and act on those shifts first. Most community foundations are concerned that without growth, they will fall behind and no longer be well-positioned to in their communities.

Join President and CEO Vikki Spruill for the first Council Member Update of 2017. Learn why this is such a critical time for philanthropy — and what the Council has planned in the year ahead to help strengthen the field.

In this Week’s Edition of Snapshot…

  • Tax Reform Update: Council staff meets with Chairman Brady, there is a new member of Ways and Means, and tax bills are not in short supply
  • The Council sends a letter to Congress about the “Johnson Amendment”
  • A number of the President’s Cabinet Nominees have been confirmed
  • The United Nations faces a possibility of decreased funding from the U.S.
  • In the States: State-Level Opposition to Attacks on Foundation and Nonprofit Nonpartisanship