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.

Photo of the first page of the 2020 Census on the American flag.

With the 2020 Census nearing, organizations throughout the sector have been engaged in many ways, including educating policymakers, informing stakeholder communities and rallying the philanthropic sector around various issues related to the Census.

Below are some resources that foundations may find helpful:

The Council's 2018 summer internsI have been eager to intern at the Council on Foundations since I received my acceptance letter. While coming into this experience, I did not know what exactly the Council was, I am excited to learn more about the sector and help achieve the organization’s goals. I am 1 of 7 interns here at CoF for the summer.


Thursday, September 6

Opening Plenary - 9:30 am - 10:30 am

Harnessing the Momentum, Finding Opportunities, Building Stronger Futures 

As we enter summer, it’s the time of year when many in the community foundation world may be experiencing what I used to call “the scholarship slump.” When I ran a community foundation, this is a term of endearment I used for when your team has survived the first round of scholarship activities—collecting applications, reviewing applicants, and letting hundreds of folks know they did not secure an award. The slump? On the flip side, awards are announced—but then comes all the processing. The months of processing.  It is surely why I had a ‘love-hate’ relationship for scholarship funds. 

The Miami Foundation Play to Win Fund

Miami resident Jackie Mansfield established the Play to Win Fund to educate and empower inner city youth.

Albuquerque Community Foundation Nicholas C. Nellos Memorial Fund

Among the many projects supported by the Nicholas C. Nellos Memorial Fund, is a food cart program of New Day Youth and Family Services, seen here delivering empanadas locally.

Adirondack Foundation Evergreen Fund

The High Peaks Wilderness in New York's Adirondack Park is the largest wilderness area in the Northeast. The Evergreen Fund, at Adirondack Foundation, supports trail work and educational programs to ensure this cherished resource endures for generations to come. © Larry Master, courtesy of Adirondack Foundation