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. 

Amid a complex climate for charitable giving, American individuals, bequests, foundations and corporations gave an estimated $427.71 billion to U.S. charities in 2018, according to Giving USA 2019: The Annual Report on Philanthropy for theYear 2018.

Community foundations that award scholarships and other grants to individuals from funds with donor involvement should be sure these funds comply with the requirements of the Pension Protection Act of 2006.

Programming


Thursday, September 19


Opening Plenary - 9:15-10:30 am

Meeting Obligations in a Time of Financial Volatility and Uncertainty 

The High-Level Politcal Forum (HLPF) will meet from July 9-18, with a theme of "empoowering people and ensuring inclusiveness and equality".

The set of goals that will be reviewed are Goal 4, Goal 8, Goal 10, Goal 13, Goal 16, and Goal 17.

If you are hosting side-events featuring philanthropy that we should include in our calendar, please send event details to brian.kastner@cof.org so we can promote your event.

How can foundations better anticipate ways in which the world is changing around them? This is a challenge for every organization functioning in what the military has termed a “VUCA world.” The acronym refers to an operating environment characterized by Volatility, Uncertainty, Change and Ambiguity. For decades now, I have worked with senior business executives to help their organizations spot, anticipate and remain resilient in the face of VUCA challenges.

A recent op-ed by Marin Community Foundation’s CEO, Dr. Thomas Peters, moved me to reflect on our field. Dr. Peters paints a powerful picture describing how community philanthropy can strengthen communities and support individuals, in a way that helps others relate to our work.

Members, View Recording

On July 10, 2:00 p.m. ET, the Council hosted a funders-only webinar with the Democracy Funders 2020 Census Subgroup. During this event, we've learned more about the national philanthropy strategy to ensure an accurate count on the 2020 census and understandwhat further resources are needed to execute an effective strategy that insures the hardest to reach are counted.

Members, View Recording

The alphabet soup of global regulatory acronyms – FARA, FATF, and De-Risking to name a few – can lead to confusion for grantmakers. Join us for an update and discussion for how these regulations affect global grantmakers today. Hear directly from global experts and ask your own questions to understand how these acronyms impact you and/or your grantee partners around the world.