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.

An annual report is your foundation's report to the community—a year-end summary of your activities, a record of grants and issues funded, and a description of donor contributions. The annual report is likely your community foundation's most important public relations tool and part of your larger marketing plan. If yours is a smaller community foundation it may be the only publication you produce—and you'll want to make it count.

Community foundations have one thing in common: When it comes to administrative fee structures, no two are alike. While there is not one right answer, it is important to review and compare your foundation’s fee structure to other foundations of comparable size. Many community foundations are doing just that to streamline their own fee calculation and collection processes. In this edition, we have provided the tools and statistics you’ll need to get started.

Introduction

Nonprofits place their endowment funds with community foundations for a variety of reasons, including investment expertise, efficiencies, and access to planned giving advice and services. As nonprofit organizations seek to place their assets and partner with the Foundation, questions arise as to the appropriate accounting for this relationship.

Violence affects all aspects of life and results in considerable physical, emotional, social, and economic consequences. The statistics are hard to ignore:

The Council on Foundations’ Foundation Management Series provides foundation boards and staff with the tools needed to benchmark their practices and operations against peers in the field. Containing data from the Council’s 2009 Foundation Management survey, the series consists of three reports: Board Composition and Compensation, Administrative and Investment Expenses, and Fiscal Oversight.

Board Composition and Compensation

Board Composition and Compensation offers findings on foundation policies regarding board compensation and diversity.

Toward Creating a More Informed Public

What is nonprofit media?

Nonprofit media groups are organizations that seek 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status as public charities. These diverse organizations serve a valuable role in educating citizens through in-depth public interest reporting, including investigative journalism, news reports, explanatory journalism, solutions journalism, and specialty journalism, in order to elevate important social topics, particularly at the local level.

How is the Council involved?

Foundations often play an essential role in disaster relief and recovery. Not only do foundations provide grants and help raise money, they also use their experience and expertise to help civic leaders and responders distribute aid and rebuild communities.

Our disaster grantmaking resource page provides a primer on disaster philanthropy and access to an array of resources from Council members and peer organizations to assist in the three phases of disaster response and recovery:

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