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.

In conjunction with our 90th Anniversary, the Connecticut Community Foundation hosted our first online giving challenge, Give Local Greater Waterbury and Litchfield Hills in November 2013.

In this week's Washington Snapshot:

For nearly 100 years, the California Community Foundation (CCF) has been defined by the diverse passions of the more than 1,700 donors who share a dream for a better future. CCF’s initiative, Building a Lifetime of Options & Opportunities for Men (BLOOM), exemplifies this passion by addressing some of L.A. County’s toughest challenges by bringing community and financial resources to the table to create possible solutions.

The Council on Foundations and CF Insights today released Guideposts for Growth and Aspirations,the field’s most comprehensive report on U.S. community foundation assets, gifts, and grants. The data were collected from 285 U.S. community foundations, including those representing more than 90 percent of total estimated community foundation assets in the United States.

When we face a new challenge, one of our first instincts is to reach out to someone for advice. By collaborating, sharing resources, and discussing common challenges, you and your peers multiply your impact and advance the common good.

Many community foundations are recognizing that impact investing can be a powerful tool in our philanthropic toolbox. Mission investments are investments made by foundations to further their philanthropic goals. Since 2009, the Seattle Foundation has committed $4 million of its unrestricted endowment assets to extend access to capital and expand economic opportunities for low income communities in our county.

The Council on Foundations invites you to participate in the 2014 Grantmakers Salary and Benefits Survey, one of the most important and effective foundation management tools in the field. The survey collects information on benefits policies and practices, as well as compensation data for 35 positions at community, corporate, private, public, and operating foundations. The Council’s online platform, Benchmark Central (bmc.cof.org), enables survey participants to benchmark themselves against their peers by grantmaker type, asset size, state, or region.

The Council on Foundations is helping to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the world’s first community foundation, The Cleveland Foundation, by highlighting stories that show how community foundations are addressing critical local and regional issues. Through outreach and special initiatives, we hope to provide opportunities that help our members build their capacity and share their impact.

At the White House last week, foundation executives, including the Council’s President and CEO Vikki Spruill, met with senior Administration officials for a roundtable on the future of impact investing. A complement to charitable giving and foundation grantmaking, impact investing offers a powerful opportunity to provide cash, loans, or equity capital to an organization, fund, or company that intends to generate measurable social or environmental impacts, alongside financial returns.

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