What is a Community Foundation

Community Foundations have a long tradition of helping bring about thoughtful, effective change. The first one was started in 1914, and there are now more than 800 throughout the United States. While each one varies somewhat, they share a common purpose: as 501(c) (3) tax exempt public charities, they enable people to easily and effectively support the issues they care about, including education, youth, the arts, social services, the environment, recreation, public health and many others.

Community Foundations do this by helping individuals, families, and businesses establish their own charitable funds to which they may contribute a variety of assets. Grants are then made from these funds to nonprofit agencies in order to meet the charitable goals of the donor.

Donors and their families may be actively involved in the selection of the nonprofit groups and, in some cases, the individuals who receive grants from their funds. The grants can be made in the donor’s name or anonymously.

Community Foundations have in-depth knowledge of their communities. They remain alert to emerging needs in order to respond quickly and effectively. They convene groups, including donors, nonprofit leaders, and elected officials to work together on community problem-solving. And they foster greater giving and volunteering in their communities.