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What is a Community Foundation?

Community foundations are independent, public charities that steward philanthropic resources from institutional and individual donors to community-based organizations. Recognized for its flexibility, permanence, and trustworthiness, a community foundation has two primary purposes:

  • To stimulate the creation of charitable funds to serve the community now and in perpetuity; and
  • To address community needs and opportunities through grantmaking and organizational leadership.

The charitable funds at community foundations are begun by donors with diverse philanthropic interests and intentions.

  • Some donors begin funds to preserve and protect the environment;
  • Some wish to provide scholarships for deserving students;
  • Others wish to support arts and culture;
  • Some donors care deeply about human services; and
  • Others want to support healthcare or medical research.

The funds established at community foundations are as varied as their donors' interests and commitments, and as far-reaching as their hopes, dreams, and goals for a better community and a better world.

There are more than 700 community foundations across the United States. Together, these community foundations made grants of more than $4 billion and managed more than $49 billion in charitable assets in recent years.