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.

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.

Editor's note: This is part of our blog series featuring current participants in the Career Pathways program. Applications for the 2019 cohort opened in September 5.

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.

The purpose of this monthly call is to offer community foundation staff a venue to voice questions or concerns related to the National Standards program. The input of community foundation staff is critical to the success of the program. Additionally, this call provides an opportunity for National Standards staff to update community foundation staff about any upcoming changes or improvements to the accreditation process. 

This event will take place the second Wednesday of each month at 1:00pm EST.