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, approximately 300 are members of 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. 

In this "Lunch with Legal Counsel," Bryan Del Rosario, Staff Counsel of Legal Affairs, discussed cyber risk and the law, the crucial role of leadership in managing risk, incident response and designing and implementing a mitigation strategy.
Find resources to help your community foundation celebrate Community Foundation Week, held annually between November 12 and 18.
The Council launched a new approach to membership to better reflect the diversity of the field, but what does that mean for you? Join this members-only conference call to hear more about the model, understand the new renewal process and get your questions answered by Council staff.
Community Foundation Week (#COMMUNITYFNDWEEK) is a prime opportunity to highlight the critical role of community philanthropy in supporting a thriving local community.
Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors' guide for philanthropy on aligning with the SDGs.
Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors' guide for philanthropy to get started with the SDGs.
Brookings Institution report on the experiences of vanguard cities in implementing the SDGs.
Read the latest UN and Country Regulatory updates, Global Philanthropy & Development News, and more.
West Central Initiative (WCI) is one of six community foundations in Minnesota created by the McKnight Foundation in 1986 to response to the farm crisis. Together, we cover the area of the state called “Greater Minnesota.” We have cities and towns in all of our regions, but we are commonly understood to be representative of rural Minnesota.
When I first met this cohort, I knew immediately that we were destined for a similar fate. The power to move and change was in the room the first time we gathered, and we’ve already begun to see what we build when we operate in concert. Yes, as individuals, we’re rather wonderful, but as a cohort, we are formidable.