Community Foundations

fish1The concept of a community foundation began in Cleveland in 1914 as a civic organization modeled on Rockefeller’s new private foundation. Other towns and cities followed suit, and many new community foundations were created in the Northeast and Midwest. By 1960, more than six community foundations a year were being formed, and in 1964, an umbrella organization for foundations, the Council on Foundations, was created.  The Council on Foundations developed national standards of accountability and excellence for community foundations.  In the tax reform act of 1969, Congress gave community foundations the preferred status of public charities, allowing them tax advantages over private foundations. Since then, community foundations have played increasingly important roles in the well-being and vibrancy of communities.

What is a community foundation?

  • A community foundation connects people who care to causes that matter by receiving, managing, and distributing charitable funds.
  • A community foundation can accept gifts from individuals, corporations, foundations, and government agencies, and it can design giving plans for a range of donors. It invests funds in a permanent endowment and distributes funds in the community.
  • A community foundation offers substantial help to existing non-profits, offers unique tax advantages and flexibility to donors, and educates people in ways of giving within a civic culture.
  • A community foundation serves three masters: donors, recipients, and the community’s need for leadership and coordination of philanthropic efforts.

danceHow is a community foundation different from other charities?

  • A community foundation can accept funds from a variety of donors including individuals, foundations, corporations,and  government agencies.
  • A community foundation grows funds through an invested endowment, not just an annual funding drive. It manages this endowment and specific endowments within it. It is a savings account with interest, not just a checking account.
  • A community foundation distributes to all worthy local causes designated by donors or by the foundation, such as human services, culture, downtown, rivers, parks, arts. We support local non-profits with funds and grants.
  • A community foundation offers donors the advantages of long-term legacies through flexible, controlled giving and numerous tax advantages.