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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Private foundations and public charities, including community foundations, may meet with legislators and legislative staff, but must use caution when considering topics to discuss with legislators. This document contains some general guidelines to consider prior to visiting with legislators.
The persistent scrutiny of nonprofit governance has prompted leaders at many types of organizations to take steps to assure that their own houses are in good legal and financial order. For private foundations, this checklist is a good place to start.
This checklist for developing effective grantee relations was prepared by Jane Kendall, president of the North Carolina Center for Nonprofits and a trustee of the Kathleen Price Bryan Family Fund.
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. Governance and Administrative Expenses: Key Findings provides a summary of survey data from all three reports.
This webinar show how 10 states are implementing a web-based platform to help foundations and other community organizations respond effectively to civic challenges.
The Urban Institute's system includes tools community foundations can use to:
This webinar addresses the core question: How can emerging community foundations staff at small scale for big results? It presents principles employed by a group of small, growing community foundations in California, and illustrates the priorities and personalities that were drivers of specific staffing approaches.
Featured Speakers and Commentators:
This webinar covered effective ways of communicating with members of Congress using the Internet and social media.
An engaged board is critical for a community foundation to achieve its greatest level of impact. But how can an emerging community foundation encourage board members to be fully engaged in helping the organization grow and fulfill its mission? This paper, developed by FSG, addresses this important question and presents a summary of roles and techniques for involving board members, as well as testimonials and tools drawn from the experience of a group of small, growing community foundations in California.
Featured speakers and commentators: