Member Eligibility

We are proud to offer two levels of Council membership: Voting and Associate Membership.

Voting Membership

Eligible organizations include U.S. and non-U.S.-based community foundations and other similar publicly-funded organizations, private foundations, and corporate giving programs.

Applicants must be/have:

  • Organized as a tax exempt legal entity in good standing with the IRS and the state of incorporation, or in the case of corporate giving programs, the corporation is a legal entity in good standing with the IRS and state of incorporation. U.S.-based organizations only.
  • Governed by a board of directors or trustees.
  • Charitable support as their primary activity.
    • "Charitable support" is defined as grants, donations and investments in support of the charitable activities of one or more other organizations. Private operating foundations as defined in section 4942(j)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, meet the "charitable support" requirement if the requirements in section 4942(j)(3) are met.
    • "Primary activity" means that charitable support expenditures consist of at least 33.33% of the member's annual expenditures.

Please note:

  • New organizations and programs that commit to start making grants that meet Council criteria are eligible for membership.
  • If you are a grantmaker but do not meet the Council’s criteria for membership, you may NOT join as an associate member.

Associate Membership

Open to businesses and nonprofit organizations that support and serve foundations, corporations, or philanthropic organizations.

  • Eligible types of organizations and businesses include but are not limited to:
  • Financial and investment advisers, family offices, banks and trust companies that serve the philanthropic sector
  • Law firms and attorneys that advise individuals and organizations regarding philanthropic activity
  • Consulting firms and consultants who advise in the practice of philanthropy or who advise organizations that serve the field of philanthropy
  • Vendors to the philanthropic field (e.g., software providers, publishers)
  • Academic institutions and programs that support and serve the philanthropic sector

Additionally, individuals who have previously served the Council as board members, volunteers, or in some other capacity and are not currently affiliated with any organization eligible for Council membership, but who wish to continue to support the work of the Council may apply for associate membership.


Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Is my group eligible if it is a:

Donor advised fund

A: The Council does not offer a separate membership to donor advised funds. Donor-advised funds affiliated with a community foundation may benefit from the foundation's access to Council services as a member foundation.

Giving circle or collective-giving group

A: Giving circles and similar groups must be legally organized to be eligible to join as a voting member of the Council. Unfortunately, most giving circles and collective-giving groups are not legal entities and therefore are not eligible to join. Council membership for legally organized giving circles and collective-giving groups would be for the giving circle or group as an entity, not for each individual.

If such groups conduct their grantmaking through a local community foundation or other philanthropic entity that already is a Council member, there is no need to join the Council separately because the group may enjoy benefits through the member organization.

Government-controlled foundation

A: Foundations that are chartered by government action may join provided all other criteria are met.

Hospital or university foundation

A: Hospital and university foundations are eligible to join if they meet the general requirements for membership. For example, even though a hospital foundation may provide charitable support for a single nonprofit hospital, it will generally meet the requirement that a member provide charitable support to one or more other organizations as a primary activity.

Subsidiary, affiliate, supporting organization, chapter, division, or component fund

A: Applicants may list their subsidiaries, affiliates, supporting organizations, chapters and divisions on the membership application, and such subsidiaries, affiliates, supporting organizations, chapters and divisions may receive Council benefits under the umbrella of the parent organization/applicant's membership provided however that all listed subsidiaries, affiliates, supporting organizations, chapters and divisions are subject to the governance and control of the parent organization/applicant and the assets of all subsidiaries, affiliates, supporting organizations, chapters and divisions are included in the membership dues calculations.

Organization supporting their own programs

A: As long as grants, donations and investments are made in support of the charitable activities of one or more other organizations.