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.
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Reimagining the Potential of the Community Foundation in Its Second Century
Ambassador James A. Joseph
2014 Council on Foundations Fall Conference for Community Foundations
October 20, 2014
As we celebrate and ponder a century of Community Foundation impact in our society, the convergence of community and climate is increasingly relevant.
In just a few days, EGA, the Council on Foundations, and Funders Network for Smart Growth are bringing together community foundations who have led the field in incorporating sustainable communities and resilience into their work with leaders in climate science to have more dialogue on how environment, communities and community foundations connect and need to connect as we face increasing challenges to our neighborhood and world.
For more than 20 years, the Council has played a key role in working to reduce barriers to cross-border philanthropy. We are committed to working with grantmakers, the Federal government and multilateral institutions, think tanks, global philanthropic networks, and other partners to facilitate a favorable regulatory environment for foundations doing work overseas.