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.

Bridging Divides IconNo matter our political persuasion, most of us can agree that America is a divided nation. Elected officials, political parties and the media often fan the flames of division, leaving our nation more angry and our citizens more isolated from each other. What is the role of our sector during these contentious, difficult times?

Are you curious about where you and your staff of community foundation professionals can develop the latest core competencies required to administrate, lead, and advance your community foundation?

Interested in the Grantmaker Salary and Benefits Report? Join Council staff for a demonstration of the survey process and learn how you can participate in this important resource for the field.

Urban Institute will feature three cases of innovative tools designed to make big data more easily accessible to decision makers: 1) Public Good Projects' Social Media data tool for the Opioid Crisis; 2) Urban Institute Education Data Portal; and National Center on Charitable Statistics Nonprofit Sector in Brief.

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Genetic information is a powerful tool used to help us uncover key mechanisms responsible for slowing or stopping the progression of Parkinson’s disease, ultimately improving care and speeding development of new treatments. Join Parkinson’s Foundation’s Chief Scientific Officer and Senior Vice President, James Beck, Ph.D., to discover and discuss PD GENEration: Mapping the Future of Parkinson’s Disease — a game-changing initiative for those affected by the disease, as well as those who invest in research toward a cure.

Experience an art-filled interactive discussion around our new research series on changing practices and structures in response to shifting notions of power in philanthropy. We will share early research results on questions like: What practices help to ensure equitable grantmaking outcomes? What evidence-based strategies exist for incorporating lived experience alongside data? We also want to hear from you, about what moments of promise you want to share, or how are you balancing competing priorities in this "new power" era in philanthropy, and what research questions are on your mind.

Getting to know and trust a grantee that is thousands of miles away and operates in a foreign legal context can be daunting. Join this session to learn about: understanding what tools you have at your disposal for conducting due diligence on your grantees, identifying any red flags during that due diligence and going beyond a checklist approach.

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Want to support causes around the world? Join this session to get practical tips on: starting an international grantmaking program, understanding how to make cross-border grants, deciding on what type of beneficiaries you want to support, and choosing between Expenditure Responsibility (ER) or Equivalency Determination (ED).

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Supported and Presented by CAF America