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 2017, they gave an estimated $5.48 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. Currently, over 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, approximately 300 are members of the Council on Foundations. The community foundation model also has taken hold around the world. Community foundations have participated in the growth of international giving by U.S. foundations in recent years, with international giving by community foundations more than tripling, from $103 million in 2011 to $315 million in 2015, and community foundations' share of overall international giving by U.S. foundations more than doubling, from 1.4 percent in 2011 to 3.4 percent in 2015.

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. Please also visit cof.org/community-foundations for currated community foundation content. 

This sector-wide survey provides salary, benefits, and diversity data for U.S. grantmaking organizations to aid in budget planning and personnel practice benchmarking.
Recent letters to Government Officials that the Council has signed on to.
Updated information about the impact of 2021 Winter Storms and resources for foundations.
Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors published the "Impact Investing Handbook: An Implementation Guide for Practitioners"—180 pages of helping asset owners turn interest into action. Two years in the making, this practical publication features case studies and detailed guidance for individuals, families, foundations, and corporations. Written by Steven Godeke of Godeke Consulting and Patrick Briaud of RPA, it features input from over fifty experts and practitioners.
The COVID-19 global pandemic defined 2020, and it will continue to impact much of the world in the foreseeable future. How did grantmakers and donors respond as communities worldwide struggled – especially Black, Indigenous, and people of color as well as other populations that have been systemically marginalized and underserved – amid the pandemic’s impact on livelihoods, health, education, and more?
Developed out of a trending conversation on the Philanthropy Exchange (PhilEx), the Council invites you to join a peer-led discussion of how foundations are supporting internet access for students and families as schools, businesses, and communities struggle with the impacts of COVID-19.
The bonus Module on Sustainable Development Goals is a tremendous addition to the express training program. Module 16 may jog board and staff discussions on systemic change, equity, and the application of the ready-made tool for donor and program development, investments and operations, internal culture building, and alignment of the budget to allow for all to be “rowing” in the same direction.
Leading Together 2021 is the destination to engage in transformative conversations about how philanthropy can do our part to create a better world. If 2020 taught us anything, it’s that there is no time to waste in tackling the biggest challenges of our time—from eliminating economic inequality, to addressing climate change, to healing deep divisions to create equity for all. Submit a session proposal to share your knowledge and expertise with attendees.
In 2020, the Mott Foundation commissioned philanthropic researcher, Dr. Larry McGill, to examine how U.S. community foundations can use the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to lead local revitalization efforts, advance racial equity and recover from the complex effects of the pandemic. The subsequent report aims to help community foundations unpack the SDG framework and use it to create an organized approach to their work toward systemic change.
Council on Foundations and re-constituted affinity group, CEONet, invite CEOs and Executive Directors of community foundations to join a virtual roundtable.