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.

Sample form that might be used by the Board to evaluate the Chief Executive. This sample should be customized to the particular culture and purpose of the agency by modifying the performance criteria as appropriate for the organization, inserting those criteria, and conducting the evaluation using the updated criteria.

This booklet focuses on how donor-advised funds at community foundations strengthen and improve American communities. These funds are also versatile tools that other charitable organizations effectively employ to provide support to communities with shared interests in the arts, education, health, religion, and social services both inside and outside the United States.

This handy flowchart can help foundations determine which funds should be classified as donor advised under the Pension Protection Act of 2006.
Remember, a fund is only a donor advised fund if:

  • A donor or person appointed or designated by the donor has, or reasonably expects to have, advisory privileges with respect to distributions or investments;
  • The fund is separately identified by reference to contributions of donor(s); and
  • The fund does not fall within an exception established by the Act.

The legal and tax implications for community foundations accepting donations from private foundations, and qualifying distributions of taxable expenditures. Additional insight into converting a private foundation into a supporting organization of a community foundation.

Historical information around non-component and donor-directed funds.

The Charitable IRA Portfolio is a collection of tools designed to help communicate the exciting giving opportunities available to donors. 

If you are an accredited community foundation, but not a member of the Council, please email membership@cof.org in order to access the toolkit.

Revised to reflect recent legislative changes, the portfolio includes:

Accepting gifts of real estate, subchapter S corporations, and business interests (including general partnerships, limited partnerships, limited liability partnerships, and limited liability companies). As well as, determining when or if they trigger unrealted business tax (UBIT).

Use this flowchart to determine if grants from donor advised funds require expenditure responsibility.

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