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.

In response to a call for input on tax reform from Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee Orrin Hatch (R-UT), the Council submitted comments on behalf of our members detailing our position on a number of tax policy issues that will impact philanthropy and charitable giving. Highlights from these comments include:

Since I joined the Council in early 2016, I have fielded many requests from community foundations (CFs) seeking support and guidance in facilitating international grants, often due to growing interest from members of their community in supporting causes overseas. At the Council, we’ve witnessed first hand this growing trend of global grantmaking by CFs but never had data on the field to understand the scale of international giving by community foundations in the U.S. until now.

The 2017 Grantmaker Salary and Benefits Survey is now open. This annual survey is one of the most important and effective resources for our members and for the field and we encourage you to participate.

A first-of-its kind analysis of international grantmaking by large U.S. community foundations was released today by the Council on Foundations and Foundation Center. Local Communities with Global Reach: International Giving by U.S. Community Foundations shows that international grantmaking is becoming more common among U.S. community foundations, which traditionally make grants in locally-bound geographic communities.

The Council, in collaboration with the Foundation Center, created this first-ever analysis of international grantmaking by U.S. community foundations.

Data gathered in the 2016 Council on Foundations–Commonfund Study of Investment of Endowments for Private and Community Foundations® (CCSF) show that participating private foundations reported an average return of 6.4 percent for the 2016 fiscal year (January 1 – December 31, 2016) while participating community foundations reported an average return of 7.3 percent for the same period. (All return data are reported net of fees.)

The Council is excited to once again join the Growing Community Foundation Conference as a Resource Partner on October 1-3, 2017.
 

In This Week's Edition of Snapshot…

  • Tax Reform Update: Health care debate slows other legislative action, but Congress is still ramping up for tax reform
  • House Appropriations Committee to consider Johnson Amendment provision in a bill markup today
  • Senate Finance to hold confirmation hearing for Kautter
  • Trending in Legal Affairs: Funding public charities that lobby when multiple funders are involved

As we hit the midpoint of 2017, community and economic development are shrinking in many places. A number of our community foundation members are deploying more resources to stop this decline in their communities. For example, this recent article was food for thought on the topic of employment and the skills gap.

Editor's Note: This month the Council is focusing on Leading Together through strong partnerships. Director of Community Philanthropy Brad Ward kicks off the month with the following reflection.

We live in the age of partnerships, and nowhere is this more apparent to the Council than through the work we do with our peer philanthropic support organizations.

Partnerships need to be cultivated and constantly worked. There are times to go it alone and there are times to do things together. The best partnerships leverage the best of both parties.