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. 

In April 2017, the Veterans Philanthropy Exchange, a veterans funders’ network hosted by the Council on Foundations, devoted a portion of its fifth annual convening to discuss what interests, challenges, and needs might drive a future agenda in veterans’ philanthropy. While the deliberation process continues around the idea of a national agenda for the sector, this document summarizes insights and ideas from that recent discussion, and is intended to contribute philanthropic thought for the George W. Bush Institute’s Stand-To/National Veterans Convening on June 22-23, 2017.

“White Oak” is the informal name used to denote a series of conferences originally titled “America Joins Forces for Military Families” and initially held at the White Oak plantation in Jacksonville, FL in 2010 and 2012. White Oak retreats encourage creative thinking, collaboration and relationship-building across sectors in support of military members, veterans, their families, caregivers and survivors among the major non-profit military service organizations, related government offices, and other key philanthropic partners and contributors to this cause.