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.

Help us Defend Charitable Giving

Philanthropy is at a critical moment right now. Charities — and the people that they serve — will suffer under the current proposed legislation.

CFE Fundamentals logoA well-trained staff and an informed board are critical to the success of community foundations in our fast-changing world. This two-day course helps new and experienced foundation stakeholders build the essential skills they need to balance governance and management.

Created and led by experienced leaders, this course includes:

CFE Fundamentals logoA well-trained staff and an informed board are critical to the success of community foundations in our fast-changing world. This two-day course helps new and experienced foundation stakeholders build the essential skills they need to balance governance and management.

Created and led by experienced leaders, this course includes:

Community Foundations Week is the perfect time to celebrate the great work community foundations do around the country. This is especially true at a time when foundations are being asked to do more and more because of federal, state, and local budget cuts. In my role at the Council on Foundations, as a member of the government relations team, I thoroughly enjoy helping amplify the voice of community foundations with policymakers.

View the Webinar Slides

Community Foundations: Gearing up for Year-End

Spend 90 minutes with the Council's legal staff to explore topics associated with year-end.   As well, take a moment out to celebrate #CFWeek and gear up for #GivingTuesday!

Today, the Council on Foundations released the following statement from President and CEO Vikki Spruill:

“Just minutes ago, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 1, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. A once-in-a-generation opportunity for tax reform has been missed. The negative impacts of this bill on the charitable sector will be felt for many years to come.

During this year’s Community Foundation Week, I’m reflecting on the innovative model of philanthropy that is the community foundation. When I joined the Council in April 2016, I was new to the philanthropic sector. However, coming from an organization where I was providing direct legal representation to the most underserved populations, the community foundation concept was something I could wrap my head around and get excited about.