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, approximately 300 are members of 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 offices will be closed for the holidays between December 24th and January 4th as we take time to relax with loved ones and prepare to face 2021 with renewed enthusiasm and focus.
The Council hosted a series of virtual events inspired by some of philanthropy’s most important challenges and opportunities in our first-ever inaugural Member Week (December 3-7th 2020). These free events prioritized the need for Council members to connect and share insights and inspiration for the future. Here’s what you missed:
Leading Together remains the destination to engage in transformative conversations about how philanthropy can do our part to create a better world and earn the trust necessary to create real change. From June 14-June 17, 2021, the Council will bring together foundation and philanthropic leaders to connect on the critical issues concerning the sector.
A well-trained staff and an informed board are critical to the success of community foundations in our fast-changing world. This two-day course helps new and growing foundation stakeholders build the essential skills they need to balance governance and management with the broader understanding of community foundations within the philanthropic sector.
In this week's edition of Snapshot: News from the Council, News from the Hill, Executive and Regulatory Affairs and Happening in the States.
While 2020 has taught us a great deal, I am confident it has bolstered our commitment to see about change in our communities for the good of all. For this reason, I hope you pause this Thursday, which marks Community Foundation Week, (November 12-18th, 2020), to acknowledge the deep-rooted, influential, and meaningful organization you bring forth to the local community.
Answers to questions about participating in the Ask Me Anything taking place December 7, 2020 from 1-2 p.m. on the Philanthropy Exchange.
This year the Council will host a series of virtual events that will offer members the opportunity to hear directly from Council leaders and peers on some of philanthropy’s most important challenges and opportunities. We hope these free events will provide connection, insight, and inspiration for the future.
The Council on Foundations joins all Americans in expecting a careful accounting of all votes and an expeditious and certain outcome in the 2020 Presidential election. Whatever the result, we are heartened by the historic turnout because a healthy democracy depends on robust participation from citizens.
Two new laws in Nicaragua, The Law for the Regulation of Foreign Agents and The Special Law on Cybercrimes, will fundamentally reshape how foreign funders can support Nicaraguan nonprofits and how civic space is regulated in the country.