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.

Swimathon poster for Cluj Community Foundation

Cluj Community Foundation

Supporters of the Swimathon, organized by the Cluj Community Foundation in Romania, invite the community to participate and enjoy a swimming competition sponsored by local donors.

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The best predictor of new community foundations in a country in the years between 2008 and 2010 is the number of support organisations in that country in 2003.

Bolu Community Foundation

Donors in the Bolu region of Turkey, who were already giving out charitable donations and scholarships, came together under one roof – the community foundation - to continue and strengthen these philanthropic activities. They are working intensively on early childhood education and launched a first cross-sector program on the issue.

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