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.

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Community Foundations are part of the fabric for creating vibrant communities across the United States. They cultivate relationships by connecting people to what matters locally. Given that past work, never has there been a better time for community foundations to play a lead role as a beneficial catalyst in spurring community prosperity and their own prospects for future philanthropic gifts through entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurial ecosystems, at their heart, are based on human relationships.

As the 2018 Career Pathways cohort approaches their final learning session in November, the Council on Foundations is eagerly preparing for the 2019 program.  We are anticipating a transformative year with a new group of powerful, dynamic, and talented leaders that are ready to hone their leadership, vision, and build their peer networks.

The Council on Foundations Awards Program was established to recognize excellence in philanthropy and honor exemplary leaders for their dedication to exploring creative ways to advance the common good and to finding solutions for complex issues.

The Council on Foundations today announced that it will present the Nusenda Credit Union Foundation with its 2018 Wilmer Shields Rich Award for Excellence in Communications.

The Council on Foundations today announced that Brennan Gould, president and CEO of the Charlottesville Area Community Foundation, will receive its Robert W. Scrivner Award for Creative Grantmaking for an innovative grantmaking initiative created in response to the deadly racial riots that rocked Charlottesville and the nation in 2017.

September is a month of global conversations and events for the development community. As important actors in the global movement to achieve the ambitious targets within the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030, foundations play a vital role in this community.