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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In response to numerous articles in which some media outlets have mischaracterized the intent and impact of donor advised funds, the Council on Foundations released the following joint statement from interim president and CEO Gene Cochrane and Javier Alberto Soto, chair of the Council’s board of directors and CEO and president of The Miami Foundation:

Editor's note: This post is one in a series highlighting sessions for the upcoming Endowments and Finance Summit, held in Washington, DC, on September 6-7. The Summit is where foundation leaders – such as CEOs, CIOs, CFOs, Senior Investment Officers and board and investment committee members – converge to dialogue on trends, issues, best practices and innovations dealing with endowments, financial management, business and other professional challenges.

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The steps of expenditure responsibility are the federally-mandated procedures a private foundation (and DAFs) must follow for any grant made to a non-charity. While the rules for exercising expenditure responsibility are relatively straightforward, many issues and concerns can arise, making grantmakers sick and tired when having to implement the ER steps.

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

Editor's Note: The Council thanks our 2018 summer interns for their hard work over the past few months. The summer interns were: Ashul Agrawal, Michael Kelly, Reilly Tifft, Caroline Healey, Chris Tian, Ashley Morrison, and Randall Williams.

Earlier this week, the Council and Foundation Center released a new flagship global philanthropy report: The State of Global Giving by US Foundations: 2011-2015.

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Editor's note: This post is one in a series highlighting sessions for the upcoming Endowments and Finance Summit, held in Washington, DC, on September 6-7. The Summit is where foundation leaders – such as CEOs, CIOs, CFOs, Senior Investment Officers and board and investment committee members – converge to dialogue on trends, issues, best practices and innovations dealing with endowments, financial management, business and other professional challenges.