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What is a Community Foundation?

A community foundation is a collection of many charitable funds…many stories…each reflecting the diverse ways people choose to help their community and support the causes that matter to them.

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.