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.

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Community Foundations Handbook introduces community foundation CEOs and their staffs to choices—about governance, management, administration, and resource development. Although written primarily for staff, the chapters are broad enough that board members and volunteers will find them valuable. For newcomers, this handbook will serve as a comprehensive orientation to the field. For seasoned staff seeking professional development, it provides a useful refresher.

2006, 274 pages

Publicly supported charities, including community foundations, typically recognize the importance of the public support test in maintaining public charity status. This convenient reference explains the test and provides the tools to help calculate this critical percentage. The fourth edition of this easy-to-read how-to guide incorporates the significant updates to the public support test regulations the Department of the Treasury issued in 2011.
2012, 46 pages

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