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.

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 nationalstandards@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.

Community foundations have proven themselves to be cornerstones of support to the community, especially in times of need and disaster.  When emergencies or disasters strike, the Foundation must be well-prepared to quickly and effectively help itself in order to be able to help others.

This plan outlines the organization’s strategy for responding to emergency or disaster, provides information essential to continuity of critical business functions, and identifies the resources needed to:

This document is written for those tasked with the development, maintenance, and implementation of a state disaster recovery plan. It is intended to serve as an evaluative guidebook from which users can draw from widely accepted steps derived from planning processes and informative best practices adopted in other states. The Guide also includes a series of questions following each major section of the document that are posed to the reader in order to encourage reflection and an assessment of current activities followed by actions targeting identified issues.

Four stories of how philanthropy responded to national disasters. In each case, organized, strategic giving focused on long-term solutions to the challenges a community faced in disaster.

Moved by widely publicized human suffering and increased disaster aid requests, foundations and corporations are becoming more active in the disaster relief field. Grantmakers have a distinct role to play in disasters because of their ongoing relations with grantees, long-term perspective, flexibility and convening capacity.

Developed by the Treasury Guidelines Working Group of Charitable Sector Organizations and Advisors

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