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.

On November 20, in conjunction with the Charitable Giving Coalition’sProtect Giving Day,” Senators John Thune (R-SD) and Ron Wyden (D-OR) issued a letter in full support of the charitable deduction. This letter is a perfect example of the growing bipartisan support for preserving the full value of the charitable deduction.

Why should my community foundation care about public policy?

Community foundations have a unique philanthropic voice in to bring to policymakers in Washington D.C. You are fully integrated into the lifeblood of your communities, and are intimately familiar with the urgent needs of those you serve. This grassroots experience is invaluable, and it is essential that lawmakers hear your perspective so that the decisions they make reflect the needs of real communities across America.

With competition from other charitable options and heightened scrutiny of charities in the media, National Standards set our field—and your community foundation—apart and underscore your commitment to integrity, effectiveness and transparency.

Gifts to community foundations have long been used as planning tools by individuals with philanthropic goals. Apart from qualifying for the maximum income tax deduction and the estate tax deduction, the community foundation is a vehicle that provides donors a variety of opportunities for fulfilling their philanthropic objectives. Among the most critical outcomes in community foundation success is ensuring that legal processes, including compliance with the tax code, are adhered to.

As the Council on Foundations observes Community Foundation Week, this November 12-18, we will be posting stories from across the country of members who exemplify the ability of place-based philanthropy to drive innovation and strategy. If you would like your organization featured here, contact john.cochrane@cof.org.

As the Council on Foundations observes Community Foundation Week, this November 12-18, we will be posting stories from across the country of members who exemplify the ability of place-based philanthropy to drive innovation and strategy. If you would like your organization featured here, contact john.cochrane@cof.org.

As the Council on Foundations observes Community Foundation Week, this November 12-18, we will be posting stories from across the country of members who exemplify the ability of place-based philanthropy to drive innovation and strategy. If you would like your organization featured here, contact john.cochrane@cof.org.

As the Council on Foundations observes Community Foundation Week, this November 12-18, we will be posting stories from across the country of members who exemplify the ability of place-based philanthropy to drive innovation and strategy. If you would like your organization featured here, contact john.cochrane@cof.org.

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