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. We highly recommend that you use the navigation or our search feature to find what you're looking for on our site.

Why You Should Attend

Getting approval to participate in professional development events can be challenging. But, you can take initiative and show your organization why and how your attendance at the2014 Fall Conference for Community Foundations will strengthen your performance and benefit the stakeholders of your organization.

Separate registration is required for all of these events. Space is limited. Register now! If you are already registered for the conference and would like to add an additional preconference event to your registration, please use the paper registration form and fax or mail in the forms with payment.

What's your learning experience going to be like at the 2014 Fall Conference?


Preconference online registration is now closed. You can bring a registration form to the Grand Ballroom Foyer of the Cleveland Convention Center and register onsite during these times:

Democratic Practice

This guidebook, originally drafted in 2009 to summarize the redesigned Form 990 filing requirements applicable to community foundations, incorporates IRS updates through the 2013 Form 990. The Fiscal & Administrative Officers Group For Community Foundations’ Accounting Practices Committee has again worked with Deloitte Tax to incorporate the IRS changes to the 2013 Form 990 into this guidebook.

The Council on Foundations is pleased to announce two summer webinars that will delve into critical provisions in comprehensive tax reform proposal introduced by House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI-4). The proposal lays the groundwork for comprehensive tax reform, and contains dozens of provisions that affect foundations, including—

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, in partnership with the Council on Foundations, announce the 2014 Secretaries’ Award for Public-Philanthropic Partnerships.

Every day, Council members stand at the forefront of innovation, explore creative ways to advance the common good, and find solutions for complex issues in society. For this, the Council's award programs were established to recognize excellence in philanthropy and honor exemplary leaders for their dedication in uplifting the sector.

As we continue this legacy, the Council awarded in 2014 the Distinguished Service Award and the Robert Scrivner Award for Creative Grantmaking.