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. 

CFUnited2020The Council is excited to work with our partners—the community foundation affinity groups AdNet, Comma, and ProNet

The United Nations' annual mid-year High-Level Political Forum (HLPF) finished earlier this week. I was in New York to join several events and enjoyed connecting with a broad variety of organizations and people working to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030, including many Council members. This year’s HLPF focused on “empowering people and ensuring inclusiveness and equality for all.”

Community foundations that award scholarships and other grants to individuals from funds with donor involvement should be sure these funds comply with the requirements of the Pension Protection Act of 2006.

Programming


Thursday, September 19


Opening Plenary - 9:15-10:30 am

Meeting Obligations in a Time of Financial Volatility and Uncertainty 

The High-Level Politcal Forum (HLPF) will meet from July 9-18, with a theme of "empoowering people and ensuring inclusiveness and equality".

The set of goals that will be reviewed are Goal 4, Goal 8, Goal 10, Goal 13, Goal 16, and Goal 17.

If you are hosting side-events featuring philanthropy that we should include in our calendar, please send event details to brian.kastner@cof.org so we can promote your event.

How can foundations better anticipate ways in which the world is changing around them? This is a challenge for every organization functioning in what the military has termed a “VUCA world.” The acronym refers to an operating environment characterized by Volatility, Uncertainty, Change and Ambiguity. For decades now, I have worked with senior business executives to help their organizations spot, anticipate and remain resilient in the face of VUCA challenges.