What is a Community Foundation?

Community foundations help build and strengthen community and bring together people and organizations that want to make a difference in the world. They are tax-exempt public charities that guide philanthropy and are dedicated to improving the quality of life in the areas they serve.

Individuals, families, businesses and organizations work with community foundations to create permanent charitable funds that help meet the challenges of changing times. The foundation invests and administers these funds.

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.

For donors, community foundations offer a range of charitable giving options that provide tax benefits and strategic advice about philanthropy.

For the geographic region they serve, community foundations provide leadership, expertise and capital to address social issues and serve as a resource for nonprofit, civic, government and philanthropic organizations.

Today, there are more than 1,600 community foundations around the world serving as stewards of charitable giving and providing strategic advice and guidance about philanthropy.

CEO Emmett Carson sees a bright future for community foundations. Video created by the Bridgespan Group.


We bring communities together to create more inclusive civic solutions.

We do research and advocate for improvements in public policy

We use innovative techniques for maximum impact

We help our community respond to emergencies.

We are a financial steward for philanthropy.

We support the people who change lives in our region and beyond