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.

Working with the media should be part of your overall communications plan. Even if you don't have a written communications plan, you still need to focus some attention toward the media. Working with the media—that is, public relations—establishes a strong public presence and image for your foundation. This helps the public understand your foundation and its value in the community. You also shape public opinion and, ideally, influence the actions of donors, grantees, and community leaders.

Staff members administering a company’s charitable giving program are sometimes asked whether payments to a charity may be deducted as a charitable contribution or a business expense by the company. Although business expense deductions have fewer limitations than charitable contribution deductions, a company does not have complete discretion in choosing whether to deduct a payment as a business expense or a charitable contribution.

Charitable contribution deduction

A collection of all impact investing publications from Mercer.

From Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship, this handbook on responsible investing provides the blueprint for foundation asset managers interested in multiplying their organization’s impact on society through options that link mission with investments that create long-term value to society.

Prepared by the Southern New Hampshire University's School of Community Economic Development and available through Mission Investors Exchange, this case study explores the details of the F.B. Heron Foundation's rationale, exploration, and implementation of its mission-related investment strategy, and reviews tools (including PRIs), specific investments, interim outcomes, and lessons learned. The case study provides a walk-through of how Heron applies its Mission-related Investment Continuum to its portfolio.

By FSG Social Impact Advisors, this report provides the first comprehensive analysis of mission investing by U.S. foundations and analyzes the activity of 92 U.S. foundations, which have made a combined total of $2.3 billion of mission investments.

From the New Economics Foundation, Mission Possible considers how foundations might more effectively use a proportion of their endowment in support of the change they set out to create – their mission. Starting from the premise that paths are made by walking, it explores the potential of ‘mission-connected investment’ or MCI – defined as investment which promises a market return but also helps to achieve mission.

From Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, this publication that can inform decisionmakers in philanthropy about how to move forward and implement an agenda for impact investing in their institutions.

A Toolkit for Community Foundations

“Impact investing” is the practice of investing for social and environmental impact while generating financial return. For community foundations, impact investing represents a new, complementary tool for achieving community change. Community foundations are poised to take advantage of this practice being increasingly embraced by a variety of investors leveraging their unique role in community.

As different as foundations can be from one another, they all share the need to know what works and, especially, what works well. The more foundations can show how their grants are making a difference, the more value they can bring to their communities.

To know what works, foundations must evaluate their grants. Evaluation has many benefits. It helps the foundation assess the quality or impact of funded programs, plan and implement new programs, make future grant decisions, and demonstrate accountability to the public trust.

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