What is a Community Foundation?

Community foundations are autonomous, nonprofit, nonpartisan, philanthropic organizations that develop and manage a variety of permanent endowment and non-endowed funds from a wide range of donors who care about or live in a specific community or geographic area. In recent years, community foundations have been among the fastest growing source of charitable dollars in the U.S. Currently, more than 800 community foundations are operating in the United States.

Community foundations exist for the purpose of building local philanthropy by connecting people to important causes; enabling people with philanthropic interests to support issues they care about easily and effectively. Community foundations create long-term assets for communities to better their community, improve quality of life and sustain the people who live there.

Creating Lasting Legacies

Working in a specific geographical location, community foundations and community members create lasting legacies through both endowed and non-endowed funds that benefit a wide range of nonprofit organizations, programs, projects and causes in such areas as education, health, human services, recreation, the arts, historic preservation, community and economic development, parks and the environment. From these funds, grants are made in support of these charitable causes and non-profit organizations, helping them address a wide-range of current and long-term needs. As a grant maker and fund developer, community foundations enjoy a flexibility that allows them to work closely with donors and respond to their charitable interests and goals.

Long-Term Community Support

Community foundations exist to provide long-term support for the community. This is accomplished through the establishment of endowment funds. These funds are carefully invested for maximum return and growth, ensuring that the funds will exist in perpetuity. The growth of the endowment funds and the income earned help provide the grant dollars necessary to carry out the charitable objectives of the donors who established them. Endowed funds held at local community foundations typically have a granting policy in the range of 4-5% annually. This means that over time, grant dollars are available to support charitable community causes and organizations and the endowment fund itself continues to grow.

Community Leadership

Community foundations also provide community leadership by facilitating collaborative efforts to address important community issues. By leveraging resources and understanding the community’s challenges, community foundations work closely with individuals, diverse groups and organizations to address the community’s needs, now and in the future.