Council on Foundations and Foundation Center Release First-Ever Report on International Giving by U.S. Community Foundations

Monday, July 17, 2017
Arlington and New York

A first-of-its kind analysis of international grantmaking by large U.S. community foundations was released today by the Council on Foundations and Foundation Center. Local Communities with Global Reach: International Giving by U.S. Community Foundations shows that international grantmaking is becoming more common among U.S. community foundations, which traditionally make grants in locally-bound geographic communities.

Using Foundation Center’s dataset of 1,000 of the largest U.S. foundations from 2010 to 2014, the report analyzes international grants made by U.S. community foundations, which included 10,533 grants amounting to $697 million. The report also features case studies of five U.S. community foundations engaging globally in different ways.

Key findings in the report include:

  • From 2011 to 2014, grant dollars awarded by large U.S. community foundations for international programs more than doubled, from $103 million to $223 million. The average grant size also increased by 78 percent during the same time period.
  • In 2014, 85 percent of community foundations made at least one international grant, compared to 67 percent in 2002. Ninety-two percent of international grants were from donor or corporate advised funds and supporting organizations.
  • Eighty-nine percent of global giving was channeled via U.S.-based grantees working overseas, with only 8 percent awarded directly to the country of implementation.

“This report highlights something that few are aware of, that community foundations are increasingly stewarding local philanthropy towards international activities,” said Council on Foundations president and CEO Vikki Spruill. “This presents an enormous opportunity for cross-border collaboration between community foundations and local organizations building stronger communities around the world.”

Local Communities with Global Reach Cover

The report shows that U.S. community foundations often support global activities by awarding grants to U.S.-based 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations who then implement programs overseas. “Community foundations have not been blind to the significant demographic changes occurring in the communities they serve,” said Bradford Smith, president of Foundation Center. “While they are appropriately thought of as place-based organizations with a fundamental focus on the health of the local community, they are equally committed to addressing the diverse needs of local constituents with increasingly global backgrounds.”  

Barry Gaberman, former executive at the Ford Foundation and contributor to the report, noted, “The growth of community foundations in the U.S. over the past 20 years has been significant, less in sheer numbers than in the breadth of missions, definitions of community, and imagination. International giving is one manifestation of these phenomena and now we have a report that captures the scale and the reasons behind this giving.”

A copy of Local Communities with Global Reach: International Giving by U.S. Community Foundations is available at



About the Council on Foundations

An active philanthropic network, the Council on Foundations (, founded in 1949, is a nonprofit leadership association of grantmaking foundations and corporations. It provides the opportunity, leadership, and tools needed by philanthropic organizations to expand, enhance and sustain their ability to advance the common good. With members from all foundation types and sizes, the Council empowers professionals in philanthropy to meet today’s toughest challenges and advances a culture of charitable giving in the U.S. and globally.

About Foundation Center

Established in 1956, Foundation Center is the leading source of information about philanthropy worldwide. Through data, analysis, and training, it connects people who want to change the world to the resources they need to succeed. Foundation Center maintains the most comprehensive database on U.S. and, increasingly, global grantmakers and their grants — a robust, accessible knowledge bank for the sector. It also operates research, education, and training programs designed to advance knowledge of philanthropy at every level. Thousands of people visit Foundation Center's website each day and are served in its five regional hubs and its network of more than 400 funding information centers located in public libraries, community foundations, and educational institutions nationwide and around the world. For more information, please visit, call (212) 620-4230, or tweet us at @fdncenter.