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. 

Council Office Hours for Community Foundations opens the the conversation between funders and Council attorneys, Bryan Del Rosario and Ben McDearmon, and lead strategist for community philanthropy, Brad Ward, on pressing issues in response to COVID-19.
Council Office Hours for Community Foundations opens the the conversation between funders and Council attorneys, Bryan Del Rosario and Ben McDearmon, and lead strategist for community philanthropy, Brad Ward, on pressing issues in response to COVID-19.
In This Week's Edition of Snapshot: News from the Council; Congress Passes COVID-19 Bill; Executive & Regulatory Affairs Updates, and Happening in the States.
What is in the $2 trillion COVID-19 economic stimulus bill that passed Congress on Friday, March 27? How will the bill impact the philanthropic sector? Join this policy briefing to hear top experts explain what you need to know in order to support your operations and the work of your grantees.
In these unprecedented times, grantors may decide that converting previously awarded project-specific grants to general operating grants is the best way to support grantees and enable grantees to respond to the needs of their respective communities. Use this sample replacement general operating support agreement to revise or amend your grant agreements.
Council Office Hours for Community Foundations opens the the conversation between funders and Council attorneys, Bryan Del Rosario and Ben McDearmon, and lead strategist for community philanthropy, Brad Ward, on pressing issues in response to COVID-19.
Council Office Hours for Community, Private and Family Foundations opens the the conversation between funders and Council attorneys, Bryan Del Rosario and Ben McDearmon, and lead strategist for community philanthropy, Brad Ward, on pressing issues in response to COVID-19.
Council resources for foundations responding to Coronavirus (COVID-19).
Many private and corporate foundations and giving programs are grappling with how to quickly respond to those most in need in their community as the Coronavirus pandemic spreads globally. This often means funding in new and different ways, including possibly making grants to individuals. Many corporate grantmakers are looking for ways to set up employee assistance funds to provide direct financial support to corporate employees who are most adversely affected. Private foundations may contemplate adjusting their approach to directly respond to critical needs that emerge from this crisis. Community foundations can be a great option for deploying charitable funds to individuals in need during a crisis like the one currently unfolding. Given that they are organized as public charities rather than private foundations they have broader latitude to give this way.
In This Week's Edition of Snapshot: News from the Council; Congress Considers Third COVID-19 Bill; Executive & Regulatory Affairs Updates, and Summary of the Government-Wide Response to Coronavirus.