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.

Nonprofit foundation boards often discount the need for ‘D&O’ Insurance. They tend to think because they don’t have shareholders their directors won’t be sued. That’s not the case. Foundations serve large and varied constituencies to whom their boards owe specific duties similar to the duties owed by corporate boards.

Potential claimants in suits against nonprofit directors include:

Hosted by the Council on Foundations and the Veterans Philanthropy Exchange, organizers announced more than $106 million in new commitments to strengthen services and support for veterans and military families nationwide. Check out the full plenary program!

I recently heard one community foundation leader state, “How you do your work is just as important as what you do.” For me, this concept is what provides community foundations their competitive edge—how we do our work is rooted in knowing our communities; we are versatile and can pivot quickly; and we deeply care about creating a shared ownership of community among the people who reside in the places we call home. Plus, there is a whole lot of love and compassion for others at the root of why and how we approach our work.

Community Foundation Executive Roundtables are a full-day, invitation-only, roundtable that brings together community foundations of various size, scope, and location to glean understanding from diverse viewpoints. The goal is to provide the context and space for community foundation executives to explore new ideas and solutions, designed with a new set of measures and metrics that is not asset-centric, but reflective of the competitive advantages unique to community foundations.

The Council on Foundations is inviting executive staff of community foundations of various size, scope, and location to glean understanding from diverse viewpoints for an exchange of ideas to Miami, FL to discuss ways we can strengthen communities across the United States. As a field, we need to come together to discuss the current mischaracterization of donor advised funds (DAFs), and how we can implement strategies for success for all community foundations.

The Council on Foundations is inviting executive staff of community foundations of various size, scope, and location to glean understanding from diverse viewpoints for an exchange of ideas to Tucson, AZ to discuss ways we can strengthen communities across the United States. As a field, we need to come together to discuss the current mischaracterization of donor advised funds (DAFs), and how we can implement strategies for success for all community foundations.

Editor's Note: Stephen Heintz received the 2018 Distinguished Service Award at an awards ceremony on November 28. Below are his remarks on the state of philanthropy from the event. 

This report from the Harvard Kennedy School's Houser Institute for Civil Society examines trends in philanthropy and social investment in Mexico.