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. 

Genetic information is a powerful tool used to help us uncover key mechanisms responsible for slowing or stopping the progression of Parkinson’s disease, ultimately improving care and speeding development of new treatments. Join Parkinson’s Foundation’s Chief Scientific Officer and Senior Vice President, James Beck, Ph.D., to discover and discuss PD GENEration: Mapping the Future of Parkinson’s Disease — a game-changing initiative for those affected by the disease, as well as those who invest in research toward a cure.

Experience an art-filled interactive discussion around our new research series on changing practices and structures in response to shifting notions of power in philanthropy. We will share early research results on questions like: What practices help to ensure equitable grantmaking outcomes? What evidence-based strategies exist for incorporating lived experience alongside data? We also want to hear from you, about what moments of promise you want to share, or how are you balancing competing priorities in this "new power" era in philanthropy, and what research questions are on your mind.

Getting to know and trust a grantee that is thousands of miles away and operates in a foreign legal context can be daunting. Join this session to learn about: understanding what tools you have at your disposal for conducting due diligence on your grantees, identifying any red flags during that due diligence and going beyond a checklist approach.

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Want to support causes around the world? Join this session to get practical tips on: starting an international grantmaking program, understanding how to make cross-border grants, deciding on what type of beneficiaries you want to support, and choosing between Expenditure Responsibility (ER) or Equivalency Determination (ED).

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Supported and Presented by CAF America

An overview of charitable giving in Brazil.

Through social movements like #BlackLivesMatter, #MeToo, and #NeverAgain, we see people for the change they want to see in the world, and in their communities. As these movements grow and evolve, a common question arises—How can community foundations support these groups or individual passions responding to today’s societal pressures, especially if they are not formally organized? What internal structures or systems enable rapid-response, whether raising your voice or in grantmaking?

What are Opportunity Zones?

Additional Programming

Leading Together 2019 is more than just plenary and concurrent sessions, networking, and track-specific programming. Learn more about our unique Deep Dives, Invitation-Only Sessions, and Board Meetings that took place alongside our programming.

 

Inclusive Economic Prosperity IconPublic and private sector organizations, anchor institutions like community colleges and universities, and philanthropy all play a vital role in strengthening local economies. Together, they can serve as powerful drivers for building inclusive and equitable communities. Leadership and action are critical to creating new pathways to prosperity.