What Community Foundations Contribute

For 29 years, community foundations have been recognized throughout America during National Community Foundation week. Established in 1989 by former president George H.W. Bush, the week brings together more than 800 community foundations to help raise awareness of their efforts to address local needs. Coinciding with National Philanthropy Day, November 15th, this year’s event will span the 12th through the 18th.

Ohio is the birthplace of the community foundation. Since the introduction of the first community foundation more than 100 years ago in Cleveland, the concept has multiplied and spread throughout regions, states, and countries to become a global philanthropic staple. Community foundations strengthen the nation one community at a time. They provide a means for donors to establish permanent funds that address critical needs, either by specifying a personal fund devoted to an ongoing concern or donating without restrictions so needs can be addressed as they arise.

One of the fastest-growing forms of philanthropy, community foundations exist in each state across the country. They are independent, public, non-profit entities that act as philanthropic advisors to institutional and individual donors. Community foundations steward resources from these donors to their local non-profits or individual community members depending on public need. They serve their local communities – the city, county, or region in which they operate – exclusively and address a range of social issues or community problems. Because of this focus, community foundations strive to bring together local partners and strengthen their impact by creating collaborative solutions.


Community Foundations who meet the Council of Foundations’ National Standards for operational quality, donor service, and accountability earn the rigorous National Standards Seal. These community foundations are certified for excellence in financial security, transparency, and responsible philanthropic decision-making. They are skilled in working with private citizens, local corporations, outside foundations, government agencies, and more. They accept gifts of any size and design giving plans that fit every situation. As philanthropic advisors, community foundations maximize the benefits of giving for both the donor and the community. They collaborate with attorneys and other financial experts to maximize charitable contribution tax deductions and other possible estate benefits for donors during the giving process. Through their network of community partners, they work to connect like causes, pool resources, and alert existing donors to causes of interest to ensure the greatest community impact.