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.

This document outlines the basics of component funds, field of interest funds, donor advised funds and restrictions around these funds.

The intermediate sanctions rules prohibit tax-exempt organizations from providing more than fair market value economic benefits to their “disqualified persons.”

The intermediate sanctions rules apply to all section 501(c)(3) and section 501(c)(4) organizations except for private foundations, which are subject to special, private foundation “self-dealing” rules. All grantmakers that are public charities, a category that includes community foundations and public foundations, are subject to the intermediate sanctions rules.

Accepting and using tickets and other tangible benefits of more than minimal value raises questions for foundation managers. Here's what the general Tax Code rules say is acceptable.

This guidebook, originally drafted in 2009 to summarize the redesigned Form 990 filing requirements applicable to community foundations, incorporates IRS updates through the 2012 Form 990. The FAOG Accounting Practices Committee of the Council on Foundations has again worked with Deloitte Tax to incorporate the IRS changes to the 2012 Form 990.

This Document Retention and Destruction Policy of the Council on Foundations (the "Council") identifies the record retention responsibilities of staff, volunteers, members of the Board of Directors, and outsiders for maintaining and documenting the storage and destruction of the Council’s documents and records. You can use this as guide for your own policy.

The Internal Revenue Code provides excise tax penalties that can be imposed by the Internal Revenue Service whenever unreasonable or excessive compensation is paid to high-level employees of charitable organizations.

The Council receives numerous inquiries each year about the amount of compensation paid to directors or trustees (members of the governing board) of foundations. Since 1969, board members of private foundations have been subject to excise tax penalties for receiving unreasonable compensation. In 1996, Congress passed the “intermediate sanction” rules that enable the Internal Revenue Service to apply similar penalties for excessive compensation paid by public charities.

This memorandum considers whether adoption of the Uniform Prudent Management of Institutional Funds Act (UPMIFA) requires changes to existing guidance regarding the reporting and classification of assets held by community foundations. Current guidance is incorporated in a 1997 memorandum, Report on Classification of Net Assets by Community Foundations, prepared jointly by the Legal Advisory Subcommittee of the Committee on Community Foundations and a committee of the Community Foundations Fiscal and Administrative Officers Group (FAOG).

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