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. 

Council Office Hours for Community, Private and Family 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 resources for foundations responding to Coronavirus (COVID-19).
Many private and corporate foundations and giving programs are grappling with how to quickly respond to those most in need in their community as the Coronavirus pandemic spreads globally. This often means funding in new and different ways, including possibly making grants to individuals. Many corporate grantmakers are looking for ways to set up employee assistance funds to provide direct financial support to corporate employees who are most adversely affected. Private foundations may contemplate adjusting their approach to directly respond to critical needs that emerge from this crisis. Community foundations can be a great option for deploying charitable funds to individuals in need during a crisis like the one currently unfolding. Given that they are organized as public charities rather than private foundations they have broader latitude to give this way.
In This Week's Edition of Snapshot: News from the Council; Congress Considers Third COVID-19 Bill; Executive & Regulatory Affairs Updates, and Summary of the Government-Wide Response to Coronavirus.
Stay up-to-date on the latest legislation and government actions in the United States concerning COVID-19.
As leaders in philanthropy, we recognize the critical need to act with fierce urgency to support our nonprofit partners as well as the people and communities hit hardest by the impacts of COVID-19. We invite funders and other leaders is the philanthropic sector to join us in making these commitments and collectively holding ourselves accountable to them by signing this pledge of action.
Thank you for joining the Council on Foundations to hear from experts on providing effective support to grantees and learn how foundations can build a sector that can weather this storm and future uncertainty.
Council on Foundations and re-constituted affinity group, CEONet, invite CEOs and Executive Directors of community foundations to join a virtual roundtable in response to the growing challenges of COVID-19.
This sector-wide survey provides salary, benefits, and diversity data for U.S. grantmaking organizations to aid in budget planning and personnel practice benchmarking.