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. 

Editable fiscal sponsorship agreement to establish restricted funds for the benefit of charitable projects run by non-charities. 

Sample donor-initiated fundraising policy for use around community foundation fundraising events like auctions, golf tournaments, raffles, etc.

Sample nondiscrimination policy for hiring, internal promotions, training, opportunities for advancement, and terminations.

 

Editable agreement between donors and the foundation to establish a scholarship fund.

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.

These sample bylaws and articles of incorporation are not a model to copy; rather they are provided purely to illustrate what such a document might look like. Each state will have its own form or particular requirements to follow, which may differ from state to state. 

For other examples and for an in-depth legal view of foundation formation, please see Creating a Charitable Foundation: Formation and Considerations.

Editable donor advised fund policies including grant restrictions, grant recommendations, fund advisors and more. 

Editable agreement for donor advised funds.

This sample document isbeing 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.

 

Editable sample agreement between a donor and a community foundation to establish a designated fund. 

Editable confidentiality document specifically tailored for community foundations. 

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 scholarship fund policies and procedures outlining selection of grantees, selection criteria, grant selection committees and more.