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 2011, they gave an estimated $4.3 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. Right now nearly 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. According to the 2010 Community Foundation Global Status Report, there are 1,680 community foundations in 51 countries. Forty-six percent exist outside of the United States. 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.

Summit Recap

Over the course of three days from April 11–13, 2018, the Council convened over 200 leaders in Philadelphia to participate in our inaugural Public Policy Summit. Attendees engaged in thoughtful discussions around trending issues and the cutting-edge, innovative strategies that philanthropic organizations are utilizing to address those topics.

This Community Foundations of Canada resource provides a timely overview for community foundations and other community-minded organizations who are experiencing a disaster or want to be proactive about preparing their communities. This document provides insight into the unique role of a community foundation and outlines key ways they can contribute to supporting their community in the event of a disaster.

I hope you have seen the news that the Council’s President and CEO, Vikki Spruill, will leave us on June 1st to return to her roots in ocean conservation as the new CEO of the New England Aquarium.

We're excited that long-time philanthropic leader Gene Cochrane will serve as interim President as we search for a new leader.

The philanthropic sector has a unique opportunity to highlight the voices and concerns of the communities it works with. Nonprofit VOTE, Independent Sector and the Council on Foundations believes we should bring those voices to the forefront. By producing a toolkit to provide nonpartisan support, encourage voter participation and strengthen democracy we hope we have taken that step.

Foundations who wish to provide nonpartisan support to encourage voter participation and strengthen democracy now have comprehensive new resources.

As we consider the road ahead for the Council on Foundations, “leadership” is a word that comes up over and over again. The question is how the Council can continue to serve the broader philanthropic field while also helping to define issues and bring our members together around solutions and approaches. And few areas are more important, and more in need of consistent, thoughtful leadership, than the topic of shaping a more diverse, equitable and inclusive world.

Save the Date

LEADING TOGETHER is a gathering of smart and pioneering people exploring the intersection of philanthropy and driving communities forward. It’s a place where you find the time to pause, let your mind go free, and think about big ideas and what’s possible.

We take learning and relationships seriously. Talks go deep and connect dots. Bold speakers inspire greatness. Connections are welcomed and real. Inclusion and impact drives programming.

By now you have heard the news that Vikki Spruill has accepted a position at the New England Aquarium and in June will return to the ocean conservation community, where she has deep roots.