About Community Foundations

What is a community foundation?

A community foundation is a public grantmaking charity that raises funds from a variety of sources, with the aim of building an endowment as a permanent resource for a local community.

In the Global Status Report 2008, WINGS articulated that the principal characteristics of a community foundation were:

  • to seek to improve the quality of life for all people in a defined geographic area;
  • to be independent from control or influence by other organizations, governments or donors;
  • to be governed by a board of citizens broadly reflective of the communities they serve;
  • to make grants to other nonprofit groups to address a wide variety of emerging and changing needs in the community;
  • to seek to build a permanent resource for the community, most often through the creation of endowed funds from a wide range of donors, including local citizens, corporations, governments, and other foundations and nonprofits;
  • to provide services to donors to help them achieve their philanthropic goals;
  • to engage in a broad range of community leadership and partnership activities, serving as catalysts, convenors, collaborators and facilitators to solve problems and develop solutions to important community issues;
  • to have open and transparent policies and practices concerning all aspects of their operations; and
  • to be accountable to the community by informing the general public about their purposes, activities, and financial status on a regular basis.

Not all of these characteristics are necessarily present at the same time for all community foundations.

Logo for Community Foundation Network of the UK

Community Foundation Network United Kingdom

The Community Foundation Network UK advocates that a change in government policy might impact UK’s Community Foundations grant policy.

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Small grants were seen as a means of encouraging people to step forward and take responsibility for their communities.

The Community Foundation for South Sinai

This new Egyptian foundation is at a very early stage in its work and operates among marginalized people in a strictly controlled environment. The changes it expects to achieve will be slow in coming and hard-won when they do. Some very simple grassroots grants have had an important impact in impoverished areas.

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