What is a community foundation?


the layman’s definition: 
community foundation is a tax-exempt, grant making organization that serves the charitable purpose of improving the lives of people in the community it serves. It is supported by a broad base of community members, which is demonstrated by the varied composition of revenue.  These organizations bring together and leverage the financial resources of individuals, families, and businesses to support projects and initiatives led by effective nonprofits. {source: Council on Foundations National Standards for U.S. Community Foundations}


the technical definition: 
community foundation is a tax-exempt, nonprofit, autonomous, publicly supported, philanthropic institution composed primarily of permanent funds established by many separate donors for the long-term diverse, charitable benefit of the residents of a defined geographic area. Typically, a community foundation serves an area no larger than a state.  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. {source: BoardSource/Council on Foundations} 


The first community foundation was established in Cleveland in 1914 by Frederick Goff, a retired judge and banker.  One year later, eight community foundations existed; by 1930 this number had grown to 21.  As of 2013, the community foundation field held $66 billion in assets, received $7.5 billion in gifts, and made $4.9 billion in grants.  [sources: BoardSource; Council on Foundations; cfINSIGHTS]

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