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. 

Join us for a series of workshop trainings based on the most reported pain points for foundations in the Shifting Practices, Sharing Power.
In response to the racial reckoning in 2020, foundations have sought many perspectives to learn how they can support racial justice, shift power, and more effectively engage communities in grantmaking decisions. Moving beyond the basic practices that many foundations are already incorporating, this workshop will examine how foundations can incorporate a racial equity perspective in their overall strategy setting and implementation planning at both the institutional level and the programmatic level.
Many foundations are exploring potential new programs in response to the pandemic, racial reckoning, and threats to our democracy, among many other challenges. This workshop will introduce a structured, efficient process that foundations can use to quickly learn ‘the lay of the land’ in potential new spaces and identify how they can complement – and learn from – the efforts of others as they seek to generate meaningful, measurable impact.
As our world becomes more uncertain, planning for the future becomes more important, but also more difficult. This interactive workshop will introduce fundamental tools used in scenario analysis and risk management and show how foundations can apply these tools to predict how economic, social/political, and environmental changes might affect their grantees and their beneficiaries. It will also provide guidance for making contingency plans to respond to possible dramatic changes in their operating environment.
Join David Kass, the Council's Vice President of Government Affairs, for a members only discussion on the Initiative to Accelerate Charitable Giving draft policy proposal. We will discuss what is included in the proposal and what we are hearing from the Hill. Most importantly though, we want to hear from you! What questions do you have?
With the recent FCRA amendments passed late in 2020, global foundations working in or granting to India continue to face challenges to their work. While Indian nonprofits struggle to navigate the new regulations and register new bank accounts with the State Bank of India, their foreign funders have also been working hard to understand what new realities they face and what new challenges might be on the horizon. Join the Council on Foundations, the International Center for Not-for-profit Law (ICNL), and the Centre for Social Impact and Philanthropy at Ashoka University to hear what Indian nonprofits need from foundations and how they think global philanthropy can best respond to India’s ever-changing environment.
Natural disasters have a way of grabbing media attention and the public’s interest. The visuals of people wading through chest-deep water or picking up the pieces of tornado-ravaged homes are eye-catching. They draw attention and money from philanthropy and everyday donors. However, there are numerous forgotten emergencies and hidden crises worldwide, especially last year as the COVID-19 pandemic overshadowed other disasters.
The CCSF serves an important role in fostering an enhanced understanding by participants, policymakers and the public of the important dynamics affecting private and community foundations.
Led by the Council's legal team and Brad Ward, Lead Strategist, Community Philanthropy, this workshop is designed to answer your broad legal and practical questions on administering funds, grants, and community foundation activities.
Council Legal Office Hours for Community Foundations opens the conversation between funders and Council attorneys, Bryan Del Rosario and Ben McDearmon, to engage in a Q&A discussion to address emerging legal questions.