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. 

Making grants outside of the United States can be complicated even when there isn’t a global pandemic. COVID-19 impacts communities in different ways and while some countries have robust public health systems, others do not. Additionally, governments are responding in vastly different ways in how they combat the outbreak. Knowing what is happening locally, and what the needs are, is going to be vital to any effort.
Philanthropy is undertaking massive efforts in this country to more effectively collaborate and coordinate quickly among various funders, stakeholders and community partners in response to COVID-19—and all without the power of convening in person. In this time of crisis, what do we need to do differently to more effectively align our resources and better serve community?
From COVID-19 and the CARES Act to the November election – how will philanthropy be impacted? The Council on Foundation’s 2020 Public Policy Summit will engage foundation leaders from around the country to learn from peers, policy experts and government leaders about the most pressing policy issues of the day.
The 2020 HR Retreat, co-hosted by the Council on Foundations and CHANGE Philanthropy, is a unique opportunity to learn, share and grow with other culture, talent and HR leaders in philanthropy. This event is for those committed to fostering a work force and institutional culture rooted in diversity, equity and inclusion.
Council Office Hours for Community Foundations opens the the conversation between funders and Council attorneys, Bryan Del Rosario and Ben McDearmon, and lead strategist for community philanthropy, Brad Ward, on pressing issues in response to COVID-19.
Council Office Hours for Community Foundations opens the the conversation between funders and Council attorneys, Bryan Del Rosario and Ben McDearmon, and lead strategist for community philanthropy, Brad Ward, on pressing issues in response to COVID-19.
In This Week's Edition of Snapshot: News from the Council; Congress Passes COVID-19 Bill; Executive & Regulatory Affairs Updates, and Happening in the States.
What is in the $2 trillion COVID-19 economic stimulus bill that passed Congress on Friday, March 27? How will the bill impact the philanthropic sector? Join this policy briefing to hear top experts explain what you need to know in order to support your operations and the work of your grantees.
In these unprecedented times, grantors may decide that converting previously awarded project-specific grants to general operating grants is the best way to support grantees and enable grantees to respond to the needs of their respective communities. Use this sample replacement general operating support agreement to revise or amend your grant agreements.
Council Office Hours for Community Foundations opens the the conversation between funders and Council attorneys, Bryan Del Rosario and Ben McDearmon, and lead strategist for community philanthropy, Brad Ward, on pressing issues in response to COVID-19.