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. We highly recommend that you use the navigation or our search feature to find what you're looking for on our site.

The Council on Foundations, in collaboration with BoardSource, is proud to announce the publication of an easy-to-use guide for new foundation board members. This publication is designed as a basic guide for new foundation board members, providing an introduction to tools and knowledge essential in your first years of service on the board of a foundation.

Private foundations and public charities, including community foundations, may meet with legislators and legislative staff, but must use caution when considering topics to discuss with legislators. This document contains some general guidelines to consider prior to visiting with legislators.

The Scrivner Award for Creative Grantmaking was established in 1985 to recognize a grantmaker who has demonstrated outstanding creativity. It honors grantmakers who, with a combination of vision, principle and personal commitment, are making a critical difference in a creative way. The award was created as a memorial to the late Robert Winston Scrivner, former staff associate of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund and first executive director of the Rockefeller Family Fund, by a number of his friends and colleagues.

Increasing personal accountability is probably the most effective way to enhance the performance of board members. Here are a few suggestions.

The persistent scrutiny of nonprofit governance has prompted leaders at many types of organizations to take steps to assure that their own houses are in good legal and financial order. For private foundations, this checklist is a good place to start.

This checklist for developing effective grantee relations was prepared by Jane Kendall, president of the North Carolina Center for Nonprofits and a trustee of the Kathleen Price Bryan Family Fund.

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Certain definitions are defined by law.

The Council has actively supported extending and expanding the IRA charitable rollover since its inclusion in The Pension Protection Act of 2006 (PPA). As of June, 2015, the IRA charitable rollover is not yet available for 2015 gifts. Congress has not extended the provision past 2014, though the Council is aggressively advocating for the provision to be passed quickly into permanent law to eliminate the need for annual extensions.

Audits are everywhere these days. Consider: