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.

“Lessons from the Field” features the stories, successes and experiences of CEOs and trustees of some of our nation’s leading foundations and corporate grantmaking programs, both large and small. Each has shared their unique perspectives—their struggles and strategies to overcome challenges. They have provided insight into how and to what effect diversity and inclusive practices have been embedded within their organizations.

This board briefing will help your board consider three main questions: what are the advantages and limitations of CEOs on boards? If the CEO is on the board, should he or she have full voting rights? How do your colleagues approach this decision?

Includes job descriptions for President/Chair of the Board, Vice President of the Board, Secretary of the Board, and Treasurer of the Board.

This article will help your board consider three main questions:

  • What are the advantages and limitations of large versus small boards?
  • What size will help us best accomplish our mission?
  • How do our colleagues approach this question?

Although board size varies significantly among different foundation types, this article speaks general-ly to all foundation boards—community, family, independent, public and corporate.

Introduction
Should your foundation board members be compensated for service, or should they serve in a voluntary capacity? Whether you are considering this issue for the first time, or whether it’s a question that has arisen before, compensation has become more than an internal management question. It has become part of keeping the public trust. 

From PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, these publications and resources cover issues surrounding investments other than stocks, bonds and cash.

As the need for scarce grant dollars grows more intense, so does the need to make certain those dollars are spent as effectively as possible. Hence the question of how to evaluate the consequences of grant supported activities has risen to the forefront.

First Steps

This guide is designed to help foundations consider how more diverse and inclusive practices might advance their mission by making their work more effective and more reflective of communities served. By highlighting 10 ways community foundations can approach diversity, this guide seeks to spark ideas and launch further dialogue.

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