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. 

A New Way Forward

2019 is an important year for the Council on Foundations. We are reflecting on our role in the changing landscape of philanthropy and the road ahead of us. Above all, we are committed to thinking creatively and responsively about how we best serve Council members.

This sample Fund Activity Policy provides language to include, either, in a stand-alone policy, or to be incorporated into an existing donor advised fund agreement or policy. Within the sample policy are: 1) acceptable types of grant activity, 2) a framework for activating grantmaking, and 3) definitions of terms used in the context of this sample policy.

Sample policies for gift acceptance including ethical standards, who has authority to accept gifts on behalf of the foundation, types of gift assets and more.

Editable gift acknowledgement letter for an IRA transfer.

This sample document is being provided for informational purposes and is not to be shared without the permission of the Council on Foundations. Use of the sample document does not create an attorney-client relationship, and the information provided is not a substitute for expert legal, tax or other professional advice tailored to your specific circumstances. The information may not be relied upon for the purposes of avoiding any penalties that may be imposed under the Internal Revenue Code

According to The Center for Effective Philanthropy’s recent Strengthening Grantees Report, there is a gap between the support foundations provide and the support nonprofits actually need, which is pervasive and challenging to overcome. Can funders support grantees’ actual needs when nonprofits do not directly communicate it?

As we work to create change within communities and within systems, we must also strengthen how we leverage political advocacy in order to be effective. In this plenary, public and private sector leaders will discuss tools, tactics, and strategies for building and wielding political power to support social change on the key issues facing America and the world today. We will close the conference by focusing on timely and relevant topics, including the movement for gender equality and an end to sexual misconduct in the workplace, the national opioid crisis, and criminal justice reform.

Sample formal policy on records retention and destruction for board approval.

This sample document is being provided for informational purposes and is not to be shared without the permission of the Council on Foundations. Use of the sample document does not create an attorney-client relationship, and the information provided is not a substitute for expert legal, tax or other professional advice tailored to your specific circumstances. The information may not be relied upon for the purposes of avoiding any penalties that may be imposed under the Internal Revenue Code.

 

Sample internal policies and proceedures for grantmaking due diligence. 

This sample document is being provided for informational and is not to be shared without the permission of the Council on Foundations. Use of the sample document does not create an attorney-client relationship, and the information provided is not a substitute for expert legal, tax or other professional advice tailored to your specific circumstances. The information may not be relied upon for the purposes of avoiding any penalties that may be imposed under the Internal Revenue Code.

Editable sample affiliate fund agreement to establish a permanently endowed charitable fund.