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.

I recently signed a check for our 2012 Council on Foundations dues. Since I’m the chair of the Council that is probably not surprising. But that’s not my day job. My paycheck comes from being the CEO of Berks County Community Foundation. I was the first employee hired by the foundation, and, like any foundation CEO, I am very cautious about any dollar that leaves this place.

But I happily signed the check for our Council dues because it’s a good investment in our foundation and our community.

This infographic from the Charitable Giving Coalition shows why a cap on charitable deductions would undermine giving and have long-lasting consequences for all Americans.

From Mission Investors Exchange, 2012

Over the past six years, I’ve had the privilege of working closely with a set of small, young community foundations in under-resourced parts of California as they aim to grow faster, smarter, and increase the positive impact they are having in their communities. With Irvine’s Community Foundations Initiative II (CFI II), I have learned one indelible lesson from these small but mighty organizations: take a deep breath and try it.

In the United States, community foundations serve tens of thousands of people, administer more than $49 billion in charitable funds, and address the core concerns of more than 725 communities and regions.

As my colleague Peter Pennekamp from the Humboldt Area Foundation says, when it comes to community leadership it’s not always the most pressing issue that you need to be working on; it’s the issue where there’s energy and heat. In a word: tension. And in our community, there’s tension around immigration.

From April 29-May 2, Los Angeles will play host to the 2012 Council on Foundations Annual Conference. As a member of the planning task force and the foundation community of L.A., I want to extend a special invitation to community foundations to participate.

Attending this week’s annual Knight Foundation Media Learning Seminar in Miami, we were struck not only by how much has been accomplished by the Knight Community Information Challenge (KCIC), but also by how much the conversation has evolved. It was just a few years ago that Alberto Ibargüen, president and CEO of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, announced the KCIC and its Knight Information Challenge Grant program during the Council on Foundations Fall Conference for Community Foundations.

As community foundations become active leaders in local news and information, many are learning they don’t need to go it alone. A variety of different partnership models are emerging and they are detailed in a new report by FSG for Knight Foundation

On January 9th, Wall Street Journal blogger Veronica Dagher posted an article highlighting the opportunity for philanthropic donors with Donor Advised Funds (DAFs) to create a “double bottom line.” Dagher points out that donors at large national funds, such as Schwab, are increasingly looking not only to create social impact by spending their money in the social sector, but also by investing their money to create a positive impact through impact

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