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 2011, they gave an estimated $4.3 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. Right now nearly 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. According to the 2010 Community Foundation Global Status Report, there are 1,680 community foundations in 51 countries. Forty-six percent exist outside of the United States. 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.

The Public Policy and Legal Affairs team at the Council diligently follows and consistently engages on regulatory matters that impact the nonprofit and philanthropic sector. See below for comments and letters the Council has submitted on behalf of our members and the field to strengthen philanthropy.

Member CEOs are invited to the Winter Retreat for Foundation CEOs to be held December 9-10, at L’Auberge Resort in Del Mar, California (30 minutes north of San Diego).

As you know, organized philanthropy is experiencing many changes, especially executive transitions that are transforming not only specific foundations but the field in general. Transition, including succession planning, process, and strategic planning, demands a conversation that foundation leaders are eager to have. 

This conference call featured conversation with respected development and community foundations leaders with firsthand experience building operating endowments as they shared an overview of operating endowment campaigns and an analysis of a successful campaign.

We have heard from many of you that it would be valuable to have some points to reference as you speak to your colleagues and board about the value of your engagement with the Council on Foundations.

Only you can authentically speak about your experience and reasons to continue your membership with the Council. Whether you attended a training session, met new colleagues at a conference, utilized research tools, or received valuable guidance from the legal team, these interactions help convey your positive experience with the Council.

In this week's Washington Snapshot:

  • News from the Hill;
  • Happening in the States;
  • Philanthropy News & Op-Eds.

Read all this and more, online now!

The Council on Foundations will co-host a webinar with WINGS, European Foundation Center, and SDG Philanthropy Platform on October 21, 2016.

Advance best practices within your organization through professional development, expanded knowledge, and these other valuable Council resources.