What is a community foundation
Community foundations research issues, convene groups and craft solutions to the issues most pressing in the communities they serve. They take action when needed and respond when called upon. And will continue to do so....forever.
Community foundations are tax-exempt, nonprofit, publicly supported, philanthropic organizations composed of unrestricted funds and private, permanent funds typically called Donor Advised Funds. Individuals, families, businesses and organizations may Donor Advised Funds that help meet the challenges of their community.
Community foundations provide an array of services to donors who wish to establish endowed funds without incurring the administrative and legal costs of starting independent foundations. Community Foundations offer donors a wealth of knowledge and experience in choosing quality, impactful projects to award their charitable gifts.
The first community foundation was established in 1914 by banker Frederic Goff in Cleveland, who realized the value of creating a permanent endowment that would benefit citizens in his community for generations to come. Today, there are more than 500 community foundations across the United States. There are 13 Community Foundations in Alabama.
What is a Community Foundation?
Community foundations are an important and distinct component of the U.S. philanthropic sector. No other country possesses the number of community foundations—more than 700—that exist in the United States. Collectively, these community foundations control $49.5 billion in assets, raise approximately $4.8 billion annually and make grants totaling an estimated $4.2 billion. (Center for Effective Philanthropy)
A community foundation is a tax-exempt charitable organization that provides support -- primarily for the needs of the geographic community or region where it is based -- from funds that it maintains and administers on behalf of multiple donors.
Like a public charity, community foundations seek support from the general public, but like
private foundations, they also provide grants. Due to their broad public support, however, the
IRS does not consider community foundations to be private foundations.
In addition to their own grant programs, many community foundations manage and/or administer:
Thus, nonprofits can benefit from staying updated on their local community foundation's
activities and programs, even if they are not actively seeking grants from it. (The Foundation
A community foundation identifies and addresses community issues and opportunities and
works to serve as a leader and convener. It operates a broad grants program to multiple
grantees not limited to a single focus or cause or exclusively to the interests of a particular
Grants are awarded from its discretionary resources through open, competitive processes that
address the changing needs of the community. Community foundations widely disseminate
grant guidelines to ensure the fullest possible participation from the community it serves and
performs due diligence to ensure that grants will be used for charitable purposes. (Council on