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.

Community foundations occasionally consider conducting a raffle as a way to raise money for a particular fund. The plan may be to do a raffle as a standalone fundraiser or as part of another community foundation event. In many cases, donors approach community foundations asking to conduct the raffle on their own. Whether the raffle is run by the foundation or by interested donors, here are some key issues to think through in advance to ensure compliance with applicable rules.

Historical information around non-component and donor-directed funds.

Community foundations occasionally receive a request for money back from donors of advised funds and organizations that have established designated funds or agency endowments. This article discusses why the proper answer is a firm "no"—and some polite ways to communicate the community foundation's policies. The community foundation need not and should not refund donors' and designees' funds, and it should be clear from the start of any relationship that transfers to the community foundation are irrevocable.

Community foundations are often faced with requests from donors or local volunteers who wish to express their support by raising money for the community foundation or for a particular fund. Allowing individuals or a group of volunteers to engage in fundraising activities on behalf of the community foundation (a practice called donor-initiated fundraising) can be a great way to increase foundation assets and boost name recognition in the community. However, this approach to fundraising also comes with risks.

Types of car donation programs and their impact on tax-exempt status, taxable income, and deductible contributions.

The Charitable IRA Portfolio is a collection of tools designed to help communicate the exciting giving opportunities available to donors. 

If you are an accredited community foundation, but not a member of the Council, please email nationalstandards@cof.org in order to access the toolkit.

Revised to reflect recent legislative changes, the portfolio includes:

A donor is considering starting a fund at the community foundation using a piece of jewelry instead of a cash gift. The jewelry cost her $1,000 (35 years ago) and is now worth $20,000. May the community foundation accept the gift? What documentation must the community foundation prepare? From the donor’s perspective, how does a gift of tangible personal property differ from a gift of cash or securities?

There is always the temptation, particularly among newly established community foundations, to accept any type of contribution. When a contribution consists of property other than cash, however, it must be determined if it is in the community foundation’s best interests to accept such property. Are there material restrictions or other significant liabilities associated with the property so that the community foundation should decline the contribution?

Raising money for community needs is the central function of community foundations. No surprise, then, that we receive more questions about fundraising than about any other topic. Following are some common inquiries we receive by telephone and e-mail and the replies we give.

Documents for Donors

Q: What sort of documentation does the foundation need to provide to donors?

Pages

Subscribe to RSS - Community Foundations