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, more than 570 belong to 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. 

The Council launched a new approach to membership to better reflect the diversity of the field, but what does that mean for you? Join this members-only conference call to hear more about the model, understand the new renewal process and get your questions answered by Council staff.

Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors' guide for philanthropy on aligning with the SDGs.

Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors' guide for philanthropy to get started with the SDGs.

Brookings Institution report on the experiences of vanguard cities in implementing the SDGs.

From Greta Thunberg’s passionate climate advocacyto concerns about the efficacy of multilateralism that the UN represents, there was no shortage of news from the 74th UN General Assembly. Despite only having ten years left to achieve the SDGs, recent reports are bleak.

West Central Initiative (WCI) is one of six community foundations in Minnesota created by the McKnight Foundation in 1986 to response to the farm crisis. Together, we cover the area of the state called “Greater Minnesota.” We have cities and towns in all of our regions, but we are commonly understood to be representative of rural Minnesota.

I once joked with a friend that I had no personality of my own, rather that I was made up of a Frankenstein patchwork of all the people I’ve met. The tendency to wander in my storytelling? Let me introduce you to my late grandfather. The courage to opine on things not even remotely in my ken? Let me introduce you to my father and mother, my college professors, and the characters that set out on all sorts of adventures in the books I love. The obsession with equity?

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.

Need more information? A member of our team is available to assist at membership@cof.org.

At our Chicago learning session, I was inspired by the approaches of colleagues from the MacArthur, Kellogg, Joyce, Grand Victoria, and California Wellness foundations, alongside friends from BoardSource and the Council on Foundations.