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.

Discussion makes a community. Community builds knowledge, interest and camaraderie. The Council on Foundations hosts 17 electronic discussion lists for its members as a way to encourage discussion and share information.

What is an electronic discussion list?

An electronic discussion list is a subscription-based e-mail group. It provides a forum in which people with common interests may discuss topics related to the list, and it’s a great way to share information between colleagues.

What lists are currently available?

This new media marketing portfolio provides community foundations with resources they can use to call attention to the good work you do every day in your home community. Take advantage of these tools and messages to communicate your organization’s unique role and place among residents, donors and leaders. The portfolio includes

Members can now access the following salary tables with data from the 2013 Grantmakers Salary and Benefits Survey. 

The Council on Foundations’ Foundation Management Series provides foundation boards and staff with the tools needed to benchmark their practices and operations against peers in the field. Containing data from the Council’s 2009 Foundation Management survey, the series consists of three reports: Board Composition and Compensation, Administrative and Investment Expenses, and Fiscal Oversight.

The board compensation and administrative expenses tables are available for free to members:

Review and compare asset allocation, investment performance, and management practices of community foundations. The most recent quarterly data includes community foundations with less than $5 million in assets.

More and more grantmakers are adopting online board portals to expedite the flow of information between the chief executive, staff, and the board.

Meeting with a member of Congress or with congressional staff is an effective way to convey a message about a specific issue or legislative matter. Below are some suggestions for making the most of your visit.

Plan your visit carefully

Be clear about what it is you want to achieve. Determine in advance with whom you need to meet to achieve your purpose.

Each member of Congress has staff to assist him or her during a term in office. To be most effective in communicating with Congress, it is helpful to know the titles and principal functions of key staff.

Commonly used titles and job functions:

Telephoning a Member of Congress

It's easy to contact your federal legislators by telephone. Call the capitol operator directly at 202/224-3121. Once you are connected to the capitol operator, ask for your senator or representative by name. You will then be connected directly to the member’s office.

Identify yourself as a constituent, and deliver your message. Make sure to leave your name and address to get a response.

In 2008, during the Obama Administration’s transition, Valerie Jarrett, now Senior Advisor to President Obama, was the featured speaker at a Council Policy Forum. She asked foundations to become partners in the social innovation agenda the incoming Administration was committed to incorporate into its policies and programs. The Policy Forum attendees responded positively, and in an effort to provide a coordinated response, the Council organized a formal public-philanthropic partnership initiative.

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