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. 

Our Divided Nation Report CoverAmerican democracy faces challenges that raise difficult questions for philanthropy. Has the foundation world done everything it can to shore up democratic values and aspirations, or has it pursued its own ideas of the public good and turned a blind eye to these challenges?

When I meet with leaders of community foundations, bringing back the Council’s former Community Foundation’s Fall Conference tops the list of requests. I share in your desire for the Council to provide a better space for community foundation leaders to network and engage around issues that impact our work. And I’m pleased to report that this desire is fully endorsed by the Council, including our new President & CEO, Kathleen Enright.

Please note, we will take a break from publishing Washington Snapshot while Congress is on recess from April 15-26, as well as during the week of the Leading Together 2019 Conference. Our next edition is scheduled for May 9. However, if any important executive or regulatory developments occur, we will send an update.

In This Week's Edition of Snapshot...

Interested in the Grantmaker Salary and Benefits Report? Join Council staff for a demonstration of the survey process and learn how you can participate in this important resource for the field.

Grantmaking tends to be a pretty virtuous endeavor. However, given the complexity of the process and endless details and data, it’s easy to fall prey to one of the many “deadly sins of grantmaking”. In this interactive session, we’ll highlight some common “sins” and how to avoid them. We’ll share best practices gained from 20 years of experience working with the world’s most generous and sophisticated grantmakers.

Editable Board resolution for approving scholarship policies and proceedures. 

This sample document is being provided for informational purposes only 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.

What do you do when you have a difficult and complex problem? If you’re like me, you start by trying to understand it. You think the problem through from all angles, looking at the data, talking to people in your community. You study the problem, inside out.

What is the highest and best role for philanthropy? And how can the Council support our members and the field to reach our potential and address the most pressing issues of our time? Join Kathleen Enright, President and CEO of The Council on Foundations, for an interactive visioning session to explore these key questions and share insights and feedback on how a reimagined Council can best serve the field of philanthropy and advance public good.

Are you a grantmaker committed to LGBTQ issues? Did you know in 2017, grantmaking by U.S. foundations in support of organizations and programs addressing LGBTQ issues totaled $185.7 million, and the South became the most funded region with more than $22 million in funding, occupying the top position for the first time since we began tracking funding by region.