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. 

What is the highest and best role for philanthropy? And how can the Council on Foundations support its members and the field to be a strong and trusted partner in advancing the common good? Kathleen Enright, president and CEO of the Council on Foundations, will hold an interactive visioning session to explore these key questions.

What is the highest and best role for philanthropy? And how can the Council on Foundations support its members and the field to be a strong and trusted partner in advancing the common good? Kathleen Enright, president and CEO of the Council on Foundations, will hold an interactive visioning session to explore these key questions.

What is the highest and best role for philanthropy? And how can the Council on Foundations support its members and the field to be a strong and trusted partner in advancing the common good? Kathleen Enright, president and CEO of the Council on Foundations, will hold an interactive visioning session to explore these key questions.

What is the highest and best role for philanthropy? And how can the Council on Foundations support its members and the field to be a strong and trusted partner in advancing the common good? Kathleen Enright, president and CEO of the Council on Foundations, will hold an interactive visioning session to explore these key questions.

“Have a great day and let your sun shine!” These are my departing words for my 8-year-old daughter every morning at drop off. It’s my rally cry hoping she unleashes her true self on the world (well, ok, her second-grade classroom) in everything she does.

The Standard is a 40 hour program of online learning designed to give participants a thorough introduction to the process of fundraising and get them started on their first fundraising campaign. It provides an introduction to the nonprofit sector and its associated fundraising ethics, before taking the lid off what we know about giving (who gives and why).

I initially became interested in philanthropy while serving as artistic director of The Harmony Theatre Company, which I cofounded while an undergraduate at Columbia University. Navigating the funding landscape was a nigh-constant challenge, and it was clear that I would need to ascertain quite a bit more if Harmony were to be an artistically successful and financially viable endeavor. 

What an incredible announcement on May 19 by billionaire and philanthropist Robert F. Smith who pledged to pay off the student loans of all 2019 Morehouse College graduates. How great for these students. However, as some observe, this incredible gesture of generosity may have a downside in the form of a potential tax bill for the students receiving the debt forgiveness.

Social impact organizations do tough but vital work in under-resourced spaces — spaces constantly shrinking due to humanitarian emergencies, natural disasters, armed conflict and oppressive governments. The international donor community’s response to this challenging landscape has increasingly shifted toward strengthening local efforts, recognizing that a resilient local civil society is better suited to address challenges than external assistance.