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 2017, they gave an estimated $5.48 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. Currently, over 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. Community foundations have participated in the growth of international giving by U.S. foundations in recent years, with international giving by community foundations more than tripling, from $103 million in 2011 to $315 million in 2015, and community foundations' share of overall international giving by U.S. foundations more than doubling, from 1.4 percent in 2011 to 3.4 percent in 2015.”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 also visit cof.org/community-foundations for currated community foundation content. 

Are you a grantmaker committed to LGBTQ issues? Did you know in 2017, grantmaking by U.S. foundations in support of organizations and programs addressing LGBTQ issues totaled $185.7 million, and the South became the most funded region with more than $22 million in funding, occupying the top position for the first time since we began tracking funding by region. 
 

Last month, we announced our work to Reimagine Council Membership and asked for feedback as we review Council membership and dues.

More than 400 individuals – representing grantmaking organizations of different types, sizes, geographies, and member status – responded to our survey and shared ideas on how we can improve Council membership, programs, and value for institutions and for the field.

The CCSF is the field's most comprehensive and authoritative study on investment and governance practices at private and community foundations. The goal is to provide a unique information source for financial and investment staff, trustees and investment committee members of the nation’s private and community foundations. Your participation is key to achieving this goal.

Key Dates

The 2018 Survey will be open from March 13 through May 31, and the results will be released in August 2019. 

After Hurricane María’s devastating impact on the island, the network of community foundations in the US were the first to mobilize resources. This solidarity action allowed the Puerto Rico Community Foundation (PRCF) to provide immediate relief grants and supplies to community first responders (community based non-profit organizations) and to design a strategic framework to collaborate with Puerto Rico’s sustainable renovation.

Created in 2017, the Global Goals Mapping Tool is a comprehensive resource that maps giving and volunteerism using both the IRS National Taxonomy of Exempt Entities (NTEE) codes and the United Nations International Classification of Nonprofit Organizations (ICNPO) codes to classify the activity and programs of charities and connect them to the SDGs.

Bridging Divides IconNo matter our political persuasion, most of us can agree that America is a divided nation. Elected officials, political parties and the media often fan the flames of division, leaving our nation more angry and our citizens more isolated from each other. What is the role of our sector during these contentious, difficult times?

Positive changes are coming to the National Standards program! Please join members of the Community Foundations National Standards Board, the National Standards Legal Director and the National Standards Managing Director for an informal breakfast discussion about this valuable program and what you can expect in the future.