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.

Please be advised: Washington Snapshot will be taking a break next week due to the Thanksgiving holiday. We wish all of our readers a safe and happy Thanksgiving and will return with Snapshot on Nov. 29!

In This Week's Edition of Snapshot...

Yesterday, my day began with a news alert of another mass shooting outside Los Angeles.  My mind quickly turned to the Ventura County Community Foundation,  about to be inundated with requests to provide support to their community after the 307th mass shooting in 311 days.

Interest is growing in a new tax incentive meant to spur growth and economic opportunity in the nation’s most distressed communities. “Opportunity Zones” were included in the 2017 tax bill after a bipartisan push to spur private capital into places that continue to fall further and further behind since the Great Recession.

The purpose of this monthly call is to offer community foundation staff a venue to voice questions or concerns related to the National Standards program. The input of community foundation staff is critical to the success of the program. Additionally, this call provides an opportunity for National Standards staff to update community foundation staff about any upcoming changes or improvements to the accreditation process. 

This event will take place the second Wednesday of each month at 1:00pm EST.

The Council on Foundations today announced that Studio in a School Association, a New York City-based program that serves young people by integrating visual arts into teaching and learning, will be awarded the Chapman Prize at its upcoming Awards Ceremony in Washington, D.C. on November 28.