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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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. 

View the Recording

The International Center for Not-for-Profit Law (ICNL) and the Council on Foundations co-hosted an instructive, engaging webinar that unpacked the legal framework for philanthropy in China, featuring Chinese civil society experts Shawn Shieh and Jessica Batke.

Editor's Note: This is part of our series focusing on the winners of the 2018 

The Council on Foundations on Tuesday applauds the introduction of the Workforce Development Through Post-Graduation Scholarships Act (H.R. 6486) by Representatives Darin LaHood (R-IL) and Terri Sewell (D-AL) on July 24. The bill would allow charitable foundations to administer post-graduation scholarship programs to combat “brain drain,” stimulate regional economic growth, and help address the growing student debt crisis.

Editor's Note: This is part of our series focusing on the winners of the 2018 

In 2003, when I was a co-recipient of the Robert W. Scrivner Award for Creative Grantmaking, the theme of the Council on Foundations’ conference was collaboration. Instead of giving a speech, one of the co-recipients, Luz Vega-Marquis,* demonstrated the spirit of collaboration when she asked all those in attendance who were part of the Funders Collaborative for Strong Latino Communities, for which we were being honored, to come to the stage.