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.

From TCC, which developed the Core Capacity Assessment tool, this resource investigates how organizations can put these core capacities to work in achieving organizational sustainability in difficult economic times.

From GEO, what does it mean to truly and authentically engage a community in evaluation? Grantmakers working on place-based grantmaking already have the incentive and drive to support in-depth evaluation to understand the impact of the initiative and to identify opportunities to improve their work. Effective evaluation of these complex and multi-facetted efforts is grounded in the perspectives of community stakeholders.

From GEO, collective action is an effective way for nonprofits to increase their impact, but they often lack the key capacities that enable these types of partnerships to thrive. This publication offers insights on the core capacities nonprofits need to collaborate and how funders can help.

This sample grant proposal review worksheet may be used by staff or board to help rank your findings.

This sample declination letter can help you inform grant applicants that their grant proposal was not accepted.

The challenges of the recent financial downturn have inspired many community foundations to find new paths to business model innovation. Alliances, affiliations, and mergers offer one path to “shared success.” Seeking shared success with other community foundations is one intriguing way to innovate and change the business model equation.

This sample grant proposal application checklist can be customized to your foundation's processes, allowing you to check off each step of the grant application process.  

This sample grant proposal acknowledgment letter will allow you to let prospective grantees know that their application was received.  

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