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. 

I’ve just finished a year-long program that aims to bring more diverse senior leadership to the philanthropic sector. My time with Council on Foundations’ Career Pathways program was transformative and will, no doubt, have an impact on my thinking and career trajectory in ways that I can’t yet even imagine. So what’s the problem?

The Council on Foundations and the Daniel and Barbara Chapman Trust today announced Opportunity Fund as the recipient of the 2019 Chapman Prize.

A Mexican American Linguist describes that in U.S. we would say “why has one of us stolen a television?”.
In Mexico, it would be, “one of us has stolen a television, why have we done this?” 

The emphasis is not on punishing the individual at fault but recognizing our collective failure to support everyone who makes up our community.

CFE Fundamentals logoA 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 community foundation staff build the essential skills they need to balance governance and management with the broader understanding of community foundations within the philanthropic sector.

Current as of September 2019 | Download print version (PDF)

This describes the legal framework of nonprofit organizations (also known as non-governmental organizations or NGOs) in Ethiopia, along with translations of legislative provisions relevant for a foundation or advisor undertaking an equivalency determination of a foreign grantee under IRS Revenue Procedure 92-94.

Led by the Council on Foundations Legal Team and Brad Ward, Lead Straegist of Community Philanthropy, this workshop is flexibly organized to ensure that your broad legal questions for administering funds, grants, and community foundation activities are addressed. The legal team will provide technical and practical understanding of complex rules and regulations, while Brad will deliver on the most pressing issues and topics in the community foundation field.

Led by the Council on Foundations Legal Team and Brad Ward, Lead Straegist of Community Philanthropy, this workshop is flexibly organized to ensure that your broad legal questions for administering funds, grants, and community foundation activities are addressed. The legal team will provide technical and practical understanding of complex rules and regulations, while Brad will deliver on the most pressing issues and topics in the community foundation field.

In 2018, the Council on Foundations introduced a series of summits on inclusive economic prosperity. These summits were designed to help foundation leaders better understand the leading role that philanthropy can play in developing inclusive economic prosperity outcomes in local economies.