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 workshop, led by the Council's legal team, is designed to answer your broad legal and practical questions on administering funds, grants, and community foundation activities.
Nonprofits and their funders know this challenge all too well—an organization has a great idea, so they begin to seek capital from funders or foundations. They hear the same answer regularly – “It sounds like a great idea. Come back to us after you’re further along.”
In response to a rise in anti-democratic extremism and hate groups in the U.S., the Council on Foundations (Council) today released Values-Aligned Philanthropy: Foundations Resisting Hate and Extremism. The report and accompanying online resource hub are part of the Council’s efforts to prevent hate funding within the philanthropic sector.
In late 2020, the Council on Foundations (the Council) launched the Values-Aligned Philanthropy project to continue to build on their previous efforts within the philanthropic sector to respond to growing concern about the issue of funding hate and extremism. The Council took this step recognizing that while there is significant work being done by grantmakers and social sector leaders across the country to prevent hate funding, there has not been a comprehensive analysis of what has been done and who is doing what from the perspective of philanthropy. The Council believes that mapping the eco-system will provide a baseline for identifying gaps, best practices, and next steps to addressing this problem. The Values-Aligned Philanthropy project is funded by the Gill Foundation. Research and writing for the project have been provided by Roey Thorpe, an independent consultant, with guidance from Council staff.
America finds itself in a moment of political polarization. At times, nonprofits can reflect or even magnify that polarization. But at our best, we can serve as a bridge across the cultural chasms of our time. Americans across the political spectrum want to live in thriving communities — and every day, nonprofits help communities thrive.
Napa Valley Community Foundation (NVCF) will not process grants to organizations that NVCF knows or has reason to believe support or engage in hateful activities. NVCF will implement this policy through due diligence to ensure that hateful activities are identified and steps are taken to avoid any NVCF support for them.
Join us for the Council's Annual Member Meeting. The Member Meeting will start with keynote remarks from the to-be-announced winner of the Distinguished Service Award, and conclude with a Member Meeting where Kathleen Enright, Council President & CEO, will share the State of the Council and members will vote on the new additions to the Board of Directors.
This series, The Hate Speech Debate: Implications for the Philanthropic and Grantmaking Community, is the product of a Horizon Forum convening which gathered a group of nearly 30 stakeholders across community foundations, government, and academia in early March 2021 to advance the national conversation on how to meet the challenge of hate and extremist funding taking placing indirectly in small quarters of the philanthropic sector.
The ADL Center on Extremism (COE) is one of the world’s foremost authorities on extremism, terrorism, antisemitism and all forms of hate. For decades, COE’s staff of seasoned investigators, analysts and researchers have tracked extremist activity and hate in the U.S. and abroad — online and on the ground. The staff, which represent a combined total of substantially more than 100 years of experience in this arena, routinely assist law enforcement with extremist-related investigations, provide tech companies with critical data and expertise and respond to wide-ranging media requests.
There is a mounting shift in the environment and climate in which we find ourselves operating as grantmakers of broad-based donors and divergent community values. The critique is more poignant with vocal opposition that blurs the lines between supporting opposing viewpoints in the community and funding groups or activities defined as hate.