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. 

For over 70 years, the Council has supported philanthropy’s efforts to advance the greater good amidst persistent global challenges. Over the past twelve months we have faced crises unlike anything we have seen before, including the recent assault on our democracy. And yet, while the struggles we face may change over time, one thing remains consistent: philanthropy is an enduring and essential source of support for those in need.
The Career Pathways program is a highly selective pipeline expansion opportunity open to individuals from diverse backgrounds who are currently employed in foundations. The 2021 program applications opened Friday, January 8, 2021, and must be submitted by Friday, February 12, 2021. Join us for this information with the Career Pathways Council Team to learn about the new 2021 virtual program!
Yesterday at the United States Capitol we witnessed inexcusable acts of violence and criminal behavior as domestic terrorists attempted to disrupt the rightful certification of the results of a democratic election. This is an unprecedented moment in modern American history and one that leaves an indelible stain on our great democracy.
Our offices will be closed for the holidays between December 24th and January 4th as we take time to relax with loved ones and prepare to face 2021 with renewed enthusiasm and focus.
The Council hosted a series of virtual events inspired by some of philanthropy’s most important challenges and opportunities in our first-ever inaugural Member Week (December 3-7th 2020). These free events prioritized the need for Council members to connect and share insights and inspiration for the future. Here’s what you missed:
Leading Together remains the destination for philanthropy to engage in provocative conversations about the issues, challenges, and opportunities facing the sector. The conference gives us the chance to come together, share ideas and make the most of our unique strengths. Mark your calendars! Leading Together 2021 will take place June 14-17, 2021.
A well-trained staff and an informed board are critical to the success of community foundations in our fast-changing world. This two-day course 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.
In this week's edition of Snapshot: News from the Council, News from the Hill, Executive and Regulatory Affairs and Happening in the States.
While 2020 has taught us a great deal, I am confident it has bolstered our commitment to see about change in our communities for the good of all. For this reason, I hope you pause this Thursday, which marks Community Foundation Week, (November 12-18th, 2020), to acknowledge the deep-rooted, influential, and meaningful organization you bring forth to the local community.
Answers to questions about participating in the Ask Me Anything taking place December 7, 2020 from 1-2 p.m. on the Philanthropy Exchange.