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.


As the end of 2015 nears and Congress gears up to take action before the session ends, the philanthropic sector is coming together to make our voice heard.

In this week's Washington Snapshot:

Many foundation staff remain mystified (and enamored) with mission investing and the promise it holds for leveraging foundation resources to support their missions. However, it is clear that many foundations do not fully understand the full complement of mission investing strategies and how to implement them effectively.

This white paper provides a review of critical governance issues that foundations must consider to remain in compliance with prevailing and emerging laws and regulations. Readers can expect content focused on Trustee fiduciary responsibilities as relates to duties of care, loyalty, and responsibility.

This white paper outlines best practices with proven results that foundations can use to find and create a diverse and inclusive staff and investment advisory team. Readers will learn how to make the business case for more diverse and equitable strategies and link success in this area with investment results.

Sherry Magill PhD, Chair of the Board of Directors

I am deeply saddened to learn of the death of Rick Cohen. He and I first met in the mid 1990s when he served at national LISC and we were attempting to develop a local LISC chapter in northeast Florida. Over the years, we met annually at the Council's conference, sometimes sharing a drink or coffee and a conversation, sometimes stopping casually in a common area as we did recently  in San Francisco.

Last Friday, a string of terror attacks took place across Paris, killing more than 130 people on a warm, lively Friday evening. The day before, a double suicide bomb attack killed more than 40 people and wounded 200 more in a market in South Beirut. These attacks happened the same week as a bomb at a funeral in Baghdad killed 18 and a Russian airliner killed 224 on board after crashing near Sinai, Egypt.

In this week's Washington Snapshot:

  • Don't Miss out on Community Foundation Week;
  • News from the Hill;
  • Regulatory News;
  • Happening Around the Globe;
  • Trending in Legal Affairs;
  • Happening in the States;
  • Philanthropy News & Op-Eds.

Read all this and more, online now!

Partner Opportunities

Join us as a Partner at the 2016 Annual Conference

The philanthropic community will come together at the 2016 Annual Conference to address some of today's toughest challenges. The Council on Foundations' Annual Conference brings together global leaders from across philanthropy to develop the ideas and strategies that will shape the future.

Excellence In Community Philanthropy

National Standards are used by community foundations of all sizes, scopes, and areas of focus throughout the United States. They provide vital guidance on how community foundations should operate, distribute funds, and determine impact on the communities they serve.