What is a Community Foundation?

Community foundations place the power of philanthropy with everyday citizens, all of whom share a common interest: improving the quality of life in our community. 

Community foundations give donors the power to make a difference in their community. Today, there are more than 700 community foundations serving cities, towns, and geographic areas all over the United States. They make up one of the fastest growing sectors of philanthropy in the country.

The Council on Foundations, the nation’s professional association of foundations, has outlined six characteristics of a community foundation:

  1. Flexible, yet permanent collection of funds supported by a wide range of donors
  2. Relative independence to determine the best use of those funds to meet community needs
  3. Governing board of volunteers, knowledgeable about their community and recognized for their involvement in civic affairs
  4. Commitment to provide leadership on pervasive community problems
  5. Commitment to assist donors to identify and attain their philanthropic goals
  6. Adherence to a sense of “community” that overrides individual interests and concerns