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.

Since 2009, Blue Shield of California Foundation has supported efforts to prevent violence in the homes of military families. Through investments in research, prevention, advocacy, and cross-sector partnerships, these efforts have already made an impact in California.

From the Lincoln Community Foundation, this report details their veteran support initiative and provides recommendations for future collaborative efforts between community foundations seeking to impact the circumstances of military service members and their families on a regional basis.

From the Office of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Warrior and Family Support, this white paper provides recommendations intended to act as a catalyst for State and Local government, and are provided with the premise that needs and opportunities exist on a continuum.

From the Office of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Warrior and Family Support, this white paper describes a re-integration trinity of education, employment and health care which serve to improve the quality of life for service members and their families.

Why do some veterans have a hard time readjusting to civilian life while others make the transition with little or no difficulty? To answer that question, Pew researchers analyzed the attitudes, experiences and demographic characteristic of veterans to identify the factors that independently predict whether a service member will have an easy or difficult re-entry experience.

From the Office of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Warrior and Family Support, this white paper released at the 2013 Fall Conference for Community Foundations highlights successful examples of partnerships, challenges to public-private partnerships, and a way ahead in supporting our military families.

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.

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