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. 

Updated information about the impact of 2021 earthquake in Haiti and philanthropy's response.
We are in a moment of dramatic change and re-imagining, what my friend the futurist Ari Wallach calls “The Intertidal”: a significant shift in global human culture and narrative, where what has been gives way to what will be.
Schedule for the 2021 Public Policy Summit
Please join your community foundation colleagues in person or online for the 2021 HYBRID Annual National Conference for Growing Community Foundations. Travel for some good old-fashioned networking and professional development to embrace peers you have missed or explore what modern technology has to offer to help you stay remote yet meet new and old friends virtually while learning in the comfort of your home/office. Dive into the deep content live or listen to the recording at your convenience later during the year. From “blind-dates” and group discussions for the online attendees to interactive sessions connecting both audiences --- there are plenty of fun ways to bond, learn, and grow! The West and the East, the North and the South come together to network and share experiences with others just as passionate about community foundations!
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The Council on Foundations today announced the launch of an executive-in-residence program to support its new strategic direction. The program will leverage the expertise of executive-level leaders to shape new areas of work that advance the Council’s long-term goals of supporting philanthropy to be a trusted partner in advancing the greater good.
The Accelerating Charitable Efforts (ACE) Act would decelerate the expansion of charitable giving by adding complexity for foundations and donors and making it harder for philanthropy to address emerging and long-term challenges.
On June 9, 2021, Senators King (I-ME) and Grassley (R-IA) introduced the Accelerating Charitable Efforts (ACE) Act. The bill modifies existing rules relating to donor advised funds (“DAFs”), creates an excise tax on sponsoring organizations, and makes certain changes to the rules governing private foundations. The Council on Foundations opposes the ACE Act because, in its current form, the Act would do the exact opposite of decelerate the expansion of charitable giving in the United States.
2021 HR Retreat Sponsorship Opportunities
Schedule for the 2021 HR Retreat.