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. We highly recommend that you use the navigation or our search feature to find what you're looking for on our site.

This webinar will provide an overview of the new National Resource Network (NRN) and explore how place-based foundations can bring these resources to Mayors and local governments. The NRN is a new partner consortium, funded by a $10 million grant from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, that helps cities comprehensively tackle their toughest economic challenges.

As we approach the end of the year, join Council Leadership as we take a look back at some highlights from 2015 and take a look forward at what’s on the horizon for 2016. Discussion will cover the multiple ways in which the Council has fostered community among philanthropic leadership and how our members have played an integral role in building community within their own neighborhoods.

Topics for Discussion:

Baltimore Site Session

Participants will travel to Baltimore for a daylong look at the work that Baltimore's philanthropic and civic leaders are doing to move the city forward. The programming will focus on the ecosystem of factors impacting the long-term vitality of a great American city.

Impact Investing: The Essentials

Center for Community Foundations Execellence (CCFE) Fundamentals Course

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:

Rural Philanthropy: Advancing Rural Communities' Economic Success

This one-day workshop will explore how a wide range of foundations are playing effective roles in improving economic outcomes and prospects for rural communities and regions. The workshop will feature case studies, strategies and tactics that foundation and community leaders are using to help strengthen family and community economic success in ways that reduce inequality and increase prosperity for all. 

Today, Independent Sector and the Council on Foundations, supported by 18 other leading philanthropic and charitable organizations, urged Congress to take immediate action to make permanent the three currently expired charitable giving incentives that are part of the tax extenders package. Collectively representing tens of thousands of charities and foundations across the charitable sector, these organizations also held an event on Capitol Hill to brief lawmakers on the value of these incentives and sent a letter calling for swift legislative action.

Member CEOs are invited to the Winter Retreat for Foundation CEOs to be held December 9-10, at L’Auberge Resort in Del Mar, California (30 minutes north of San Diego).

As you know, organized philanthropy is experiencing many changes, especially executive transitions that are transforming not only specific foundations but the field in general. Transition, including succession planning, process, and strategic planning, demands a conversation that foundation leaders are eager to have.