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. 

The Council on Foundations (the Council) today announced that its membership has approved the appointment of three philanthropic executives to its board of directors: Srikanth Gopal, Managing Partner of Humanity United; Galen Maness, Chief Operating Officer of the San Francisco Foundation; and Jay Williams, President and CEO of the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving.
A well-trained staff and an informed board are critical to the success of community foundations in our fast-changing world. This traditionally in-person, two-day course adapted to virtual in four, half day sessions helps new and growing foundation stakeholders build the essential skills they need to balance governance and management with the broader understanding of community foundations within the philanthropic sector.
The Council on Foundations today announced the selection of 51 philanthropy professionals for participation in Career Pathways, a leadership development program designed to diversify the talent pipeline for executive-level roles in Philanthropy.
2021 was a year of focus and renewal for the Council on Foundations. Guided by a new 20-year vision for the sector, we collaborated with our member community to create lasting impact through knowledge products, field training programs, and more.
As part of its continuous improvement process, EBCF periodically reviews and updates its policies and procedures to ensure legal compliance as well as adherence to industry best practices. EBCF shares these updates with fund holders, grantees, and the wider community as part of our commitment to all stakeholders.
Debates around hate funding have grown in multiple spaces as issues of social violence, extremist ideology, and organized hate come to the forefront of public conversations. Advocacy organizations are flagging such activities, along with their funding sources, and implementing high-profile campaigns pressuring organizations to stop what they consider to be hate funding.
Connect with community foundation peers to learn about the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This group of community foundations meets monthly by Zoom to discuss SDG hot topics including education, local implementation, community alignment and communication, professional development, data, grantmaking, and more. This community is primarily focused on expanding the SDGs in the United States through community foundation action, but all nationalities are welcome.
Updated information about the impact of December 2021 Tornadoes on communities and resources for foundations.