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.

In this issue: Baucus and Hatch Call for "Blank Slate" in Tax Reform, More on Tax Reform, Charitable Deduction, IRS Scrutiny, and Giving USA 2013

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In this issue: Giving USA Report Released, Senate Finance Committee Releases White Paper on Tax-Exempt Organizations and Charitable Giving, Baucus and Camp Plan Summer Tax Reform Road Show, Continued IRS Scrutiny

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October 19-22 | Preconference October 18-19 | Cleveland, Ohio

In June, I had the pleasure of introducing four recent graduates of the Cleveland School District at the Cleveland Foundation’s annual meeting. We wanted to showcase top achievers to put a human face on the investment we’ve made in the future of Cleveland’s young people. These college-bound students are a fitting example of why philanthropy matters, today and for generations to come. Let me tell you more about these exceptional young people:

The Northern Virginia region includes Loudoun County, a traditionally rural area that has seen drastic suburbanization and growth in the past two decades. The shift in its focus and population caused those of us at the Community Foundation for Northern Virginia to ask an age-old question: How do we engage donors in this area to support efforts that strengthen their own community?

Two years ago, Endeavor Foundation’s board of directors challenged staff to think beyond providing fund services and facilitated grantmaking by expanding our mission. Through a strategic planning process, we determined Endeavor should be a long-term advocate for Northwest Arkansas. Many refer to that as “community leadership.” Many in our region of 500,000 believe we’ve already had plenty of good leadership to build on, and we agree.

This year, Indian Land Tenure Foundation (ILTF) is celebrating its 10th anniversary operating as a community foundation serving “Indian Country”—generally defined as the land and communities within American Indian reservation boundaries as well as off-reservation trust lands. Since 2002, ILTF has invested nearly $20 million in grants and programs that support efforts to return control and management of Indian land to Indian people.

I first started working in the community foundation field more than 15 years ago. It goes without saying that I’m a big fan. I believe in this democratic model of philanthropy where the collective power of many creates powerful change. I’m also a fan because most community foundations understand that our work is constantly changing and adjusting to new needs. We cannot stand still. Indeed, the model of community foundation 15 years ago was vastly different than the one I see across the country now.

It’s Community Foundation Week, a time to focus on philanthropy as the giving season warms up and the temperature outside cools down. Many of us look forward to evenings spent snuggled up under a warm blanket, sipping a hot drink, and settling in to catch up on some reading. Any chance your reading list includes an annual report?

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