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. 

The FOTH Congressional Reception is being hosted by the Council on Foundations for friends of the philanthropic sector in Congress, FOTH attendees and philanthropic colleagues in Washington. Rep. Danny Davis (D-IL) and Rep. George Holding (R-NC) will be recognized for their legislative leadership on philanthropic issues that enhance foundations’ ability to serve the greater good and promote incentives for charitable giving.

This report from Charities Aid Foundation, Aga Khan Foundation, Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, and the UK Lottery Fund provides detailed data about the culture of giving in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania.

As a member of the Council on Foundations, your benefits include a special offering from our partners at the Center for Effective Philanthropy.

Tapping into the vibrant yet often invisible transnational communities and recognizing local solutions are borrowed and replicated by community foundations around the world is more commonplace and increasingly important to our field. From raising assets to deploying them, establishing more robust engagement channels to deepening community impact, how place is defined by the people that inhabit it will continue to influence how the modern community foundation achieves a deeper sense of community for all.

A multi-state settlement agreement between PayPal Charitable Giving Fund (PPGF) and almost two-dozen states was announced to address issues of transparency and PPGF’s website disclosures. One notable area state regulators found lacking was disclosure by PPGF of the fact that PPGF could exercise its “variance power” to reassign a donor’s gift if the selected charity did not pass PPGF’s vetting process.

The IRS published 45 FAQs related to virtual currency (Bitcoin and other cryptocurrency), and foundations should note two of these questions address charitable acknowledgment of such gifts as well as IRS reporting requirements. 

Briefly, a contemporaneous written acknowledgment is required for gifts of crypto-currency similar to other gifts, but cryptocurrency is treated as a property gift (other than cash) and may also require completion of IRS form 8283 by the donor depending on the value of the gift.

Disaster Overview

The 2019-2020 outbreak of COVID-19 (also known as "coronavirus") began in the Wuhan,China. It has since been delcared a global health emergency by the World Health Organization. With thousands infected in China and the disease spreading to new countries, the Council is working to provide our members with tools to respond and track relief efforts.