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.

The Council on Foundations maintains a no-solicitation policy covering all of its conferences, meetings, webinars and other events. In order to provide a distraction-free environment for our members and other attendees, we do not allow solicitation of any kind during any event, including asking for business, soliciting fund management services, distributing grant proposals, or requesting grant funding. Additionally, Council members expect that participation in Council events will not result in future solicitations unless the member specifically invites future contact.

As a community foundation, you are uniquely situated to engage with policymakers because the constituents that your federal and state representatives serve often times overlap with the community and population that are strengthened by your grantmaking and leadership. It is important to highlight this parallel when engaging and communicating with policymakers to demonstrate your shared goal of supporting and improving a particular population.

Whether interacting with the media or marketing to members of your local community, these tools and resources can help shape your messages and demonstrate your value.

Community Foundations' individual success stories can help to demonstrate the philanthropic sector’s impact as a whole, as well as the specific, innovative, real-life solutions you are using every day. Showcasing these achievements, while highlighting the unique role fulfilled by Community Foundations, is an effective way to demonstrate your impact and advance your mission. These tools can help you tailor your stories to achieve your goals.

Preconference Programming

Separate registration is required for all of these events. Space is limited. Register now!

Baltimore Site Session

Participants will travel to Baltimore for a daylong look at the work that Baltimore's philanthropic and civic leaders are doing to move the city forward. The programming will focus on the ecosystem of factors impacting the long-term vitality of a great American city.

Impact Investing: The Essentials

Center for Community Foundations Execellence (CCFE) Fundamentals Course

A well-trained staff and an informed board are critical to the success of community foundations in our fast-changing world. This two-day course helps new and experienced foundation stakeholders build the essential skills they need to balance governance and management.

Created and led by experienced leaders, this course includes:

Rural Philanthropy: Advancing Rural Communities' Economic Success

This one-day workshop will explore how a wide range of foundations are playing effective roles in improving economic outcomes and prospects for rural communities and regions. The workshop will feature case studies, strategies and tactics that foundation and community leaders are using to help strengthen family and community economic success in ways that reduce inequality and increase prosperity for all.