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.

In summer 2011, the Maine Community Foundation, New Hampshire Charitable Foundation and the Vermont Community Foundation came together, with the help of GPS Capital Partners and TPI, to jointly evaluate the potential for expanding impact investing as a program strategy and donor service. This case study looks at the role impact investing could play in those three community foundations and throughout northern New England.

From Grantmakers in Health, Guide to Impact Investing provides an overview of what impact investing is and how it may enhance foundation work, steps to plan and implement an impact investing program, a spectrum of investment options, and challenges that may arise along the way.

Council on Foundations president and CEO Vikki Spruill and several Council members met with Congressional leaders today to deliver the important message that changes to the charitable tax deduction would diminish its value and have an undeniably negative impact on communities across the United States. Reductions in the charitable tax deduction would result in diminished support for health and human services, fewer nonprofit jobs, a reduction in research and development capacity, less educational opportunity, cuts to art funding, and decreases in economic development.  

The Council on Foundations today announced the first members of its network team, which will facilitate the flow of information and ideas across the philanthropic sector. The network team will connect members around common issues of concern, connect our members to outside resources across sectors, and —if necessary— build new products and services.

What growth trends did the community foundation field experience in FY 2012? “Guideposts Point to New Heights”(PDF,1.16 MB) is an analysis of 2012 data gathered through the Columbus Survey. The report is a resource to understand the performance of your individual organization in the context of the field.

From GEO, what does it mean to truly and authentically engage a community in evaluation? Grantmakers working on place-based grantmaking already have the incentive and drive to support in-depth evaluation to understand the impact of the initiative and to identify opportunities to improve their work. Effective evaluation of these complex and multi-facetted efforts is grounded in the perspectives of community stakeholders.

From GEO, collective action is an effective way for nonprofits to increase their impact, but they often lack the key capacities that enable these types of partnerships to thrive. This publication offers insights on the core capacities nonprofits need to collaborate and how funders can help.

From PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, these publications and resources cover issues surrounding investments other than stocks, bonds and cash.

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