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. 

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.

During the United Nations General Assembly in late September, Heads of State, government officials, civil society, and the philanthropic and commercial private sector will convene in New York with a focus on Universal Health Coverage (UHC). UHC is a key part of Sustainable Development Goal 3 and a shared commitment by United Nations member states to ensure everyone has access to health services without undue financial hardship. The vision is lofty and worthy, but the barriers are plentiful.

What is the highest and best role for philanthropy? And how can the Council on Foundations support its members and the field to be a strong and trusted partner in advancing the common good? Kathleen Enright, president and CEO of the Council on Foundations, will hold an interactive visioning session to explore these key questions.

What is the highest and best role for philanthropy? And how can the Council on Foundations support its members and the field to be a strong and trusted partner in advancing the common good? Kathleen Enright, president and CEO of the Council on Foundations, will hold an interactive visioning session to explore these key questions.

Previewing the UN General Assembly: A global community of actors

The world faces pressing challenges that require global responses – the climate crisis, entrenched inequality, migration, and more. But with international cooperation increasingly at risk, actions taken at the local level are ever more vital. 

The upcoming high-level week of the UN General Assembly will put these issues front and center on the international agenda and mobilize action on the challenges that matter to Americans and to people around the world.

After working in the philanthropic field for the past 10 years, the Council on Foundations Career Pathways Program gave me the opportunity—and frankly the time—to seriously consider being an executive leader in the sector. It’s not something I could always see for myself.

I am happy to say I can see it clearly now.

Disaster Overview

Hurricane Dorian made landfall in the Bahamas on Sunday, September 1 and was the strongest storm to ever make landfall in the Atlantic. Although it decreased in strength as it made its way toward the U.S. Atlantic Coast, it made a total of five landfalls -- three in Bahamas, a U.S. landfall in North Carolina and a final one in Canada. This page will be regularly updated with more resources and information on any funds established to support disaster response and recovery. 

An overview of charitable giving in India by Charities Aid Foundation.