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 would like to thank all of the sponsors for their support of the 2018 Public Policy Summit.

Happy New Year! As you start 2018, I’m excited to continue working with you to support your international grantmaking. I’m kicking off the new year with a new job here at the Council—while continuing to lead our international program, I’m now also overseeing the work of our corporate, community, and private philanthropy directors as the Council’s Vice President of External Relations.

This event has been postponed to Spring 2018.   Details about its rescheduled date coming soon.

Personalized donor service and deep relationships dominate the approach utilized by community foundations in development and grantmaking, but exactly how much has the digital revolution and other philanthropic innovations disrupted our work? What is on the horizon?

As I reflected on the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. this week, I spent some time honing in on the words of a little song by the legendary James Taylor. “Shed A Little Light” is an homage to Dr. King and in it, the lyrics say, “We are bound together by the task that stands before us.” Those lyrics, which literally give me chills each time I hear them, speak to the task before philanthropy, which is leading the charge in healing divides in our communities and shoring up internally to ensure that our sector represents the many voices in our society.

The Council on Foundations has joined a growing coalition, which pledges to advance diversity and inclusion in the workplace. The CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion™ includes more than 300 CEOs of America’s leading companies and business organizations, who have jointly agreed to a pledge to cultivate a workplace and culture where diverse perspectives and experiences are welcomed and respected, employees feel comfortable and encouraged to discuss diversity and inclusion and where practices can be shared across organizations.

For some parts of the country, 2018 arrived in full force—with an arctic blast of frigid temperatures in the east and torrential mudslides in the west—all while tax reform brings new unknowns to our work.

While in some respects, the impact of this tax legislation on charitable giving seems mightily regressive, we have also seen many of our community foundation members take this as an opportunity to double down and communicate the need for giving to unrestricted community funds or donor advised funds.