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.

As society continues to struggle with issues such as police-related violence, housing inequalities, health care reform, and threats to national and international security (just to name a few), philanthropy has been challenged to re-evaluate its long held role as convener to potentially adopt a different role in serving the public good.

Beginning in 2014, there has been a spike in the number of refugees arriving in Europe who are fleeing countries in conflict. During 2015, the number of arriving refugees has already more than doubled the amount of refugees who came to Europe in all of 2014. The unprecedented movement of people around the world has created the highest number of displaced persons since World War II. More than half of registered refugees are children and youth. Nearly 400,000 refugees, often arriving on smugglers boats across the Mediterranean Sea, have arrived in Europe in 2015.

Foundations use a variety of models in managing their investments. But given the pursuit of higher risk-adjusted returns, many foundations are exploring different ways to access the expertise they need and to manage increasingly complex investment portfolios. Join a conversation to explore the results from the Council on Foundations-Commonfund Study of Investments, which provides data on how private and community foundations are using professional staff, consultants, managers, to oversee their investments.

Bipartisan consensus around criminal justice reform is growing nationally with more foundations increasing their efforts to change the way we think about prisons and public safety. As this issue continues to gain momentum, we ask how can philanthropy take a leadership role in reforming the criminal justice system in America?

Join the Council on Foundations for a Twitter Chat, Wednesday, August 26 from 12-1 PM ET, as we explore these important questions together.

A well-trained staff and an informed board are critical to the success of community foundations in our fast-changing world. This two-day course helps new and experienced foundation stakeholders build the essential skills they need to balance governance and management.

Created and led by experienced leaders, this course includes:

Stephanie Bell-Rose, Senior Managing Director of the TIAA-CREF Institute, shares the Working Group's vision of the Endowments and Financial Services Summit.