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.

As We Look Forward

2019 is an important year for the Council on Foundations. Above all, we are committed to thinking creatively (and responsively) about how we best serve Council members.

A first step under the leadership of Kathleen Enright is a comprehensive review and analysis of the Council’s membership structures and dues, to ensure we are ready to achieve our mission: advancing the work of our members and the philanthropic sector.

According to The Center for Effective Philanthropy’s recent Strengthening Grantees Report, there is a gap between the support foundations provide and the support nonprofits actually need, which is pervasive and challenging to overcome. Can funders support grantees’ actual needs when nonprofits do not directly communicate it?

As we work to create change within communities and within systems, we must also strengthen how we leverage political advocacy in order to be effective. In this plenary, public and private sector leaders will discuss tools, tactics, and strategies for building and wielding political power to support social change on the key issues facing America and the world today. We will close the conference by focusing on timely and relevant topics, including the movement for gender equality and an end to sexual misconduct in the workplace, the national opioid crisis, and criminal justice reform.

The CDFI Fund has identified over 41,000 population census tracts that are eligible for designation as a QOZ, including (1) 31,680 population census tracts that are Low-Income Communities (LICs) eligible for designation as QOZs; and (2) 9,453 non-LIC population census tracts that are eligible for designation if a particular LIC contiguous to the non-LIC tract is designated as a QOZ. Contiguous Tracts must be at or below 125% of the area median income.

Now that Opportunity Zones have been designated, individual and corporate investors are then given the opportunity to defer capital gains taxes when they reinvest the earnings in these communities. Additional incentives accrue over five, seven and ten years if the investment is maintained – thereby promoting the kind of patient capital that distressed communities so often lack. Get more of the resources you need to learn about Opportunity Zones from the US Impact Investing Alliance.

This white paper from the Community Foundation Public Awareness Initiative discusses a timely and significant opportunity for community foundations (CFs): How they can use the recently enacted federal Opportunity Zone tax incentive to benefit communities in need by leveraging their knowledge of underprivileged communities, networks of donors, and commitment to community development. The memo explores several options for CFs to take advantage of the Opportunity Zone (OZ) incentive to support their mission.

Guest writer Adam Northup, LOCUS Advisor, shares what every Community Foundation should know about Opportunity Zones. Created by the new tax law, this new tool has the potential to revitalize left behind communities.

The OZ program is intended to spur long-term investments in low-income census tracts in the U.S. The new law allows investors to place unrealized capital gains (a profit from an investment that hasn’t yet been sold) into authorized O Funds that invest capital into OZs. The greatest benefits would go to investors who invest for 10 or more years. Learn more from the Mission Investors Exchange about the benefits, risks, and potential of opportunity zones.