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. 

While 2020 has taught us a great deal, I am confident it has bolstered our commitment to see about change in our communities for the good of all. For this reason, I hope you pause this Thursday, which marks Community Foundation Week, (November 12-18th, 2020), to acknowledge the deep-rooted, influential, and meaningful organization you bring forth to the local community.
Although the terms “fiscal agent” or “fiscal agency” are sometimes used by community foundations when they mean to refer to a fiscal sponsorship, we always try to stress that this is inaccurate and should be avoided.
As communities and the nation begin the process of recovery, how can philanthropy support a more equitable, inclusive future through civic engagement and advocacy? Join this Leading Together 2021 preconference session to hear from thought leaders, foundation executives, and advocates who are working at the forefront of social change and challenging existing policies that maintain the status quo.
Designed by and for community foundation CEOs, this Leading Together 2021 preconference session will focus on the critical role community foundations play in building community. In partnership with CEONet, this session will explore how community foundations can work together and with their local partners on solutions to the pressing issues we all face.
Join us for this Leading Together 2021 preconference session as we examine the most pressing challenges facing global funders and the communities they support, and how foundations can work more effectively across borders.