History of Community Foundations in the United States


Community foundations make up one of the fastest growing sectors of philanthropy in the United States today.  They build and strengthen communities by making it possible for a wide range of donors to give charitably by creating donor advised funds or endowed funds that help with a community’s critical needs.  Community foundations use diverse and inclusive philanthropy to become catalysts for improvement with in urban centers and in rural settings.


There are more than 780 community foundations in the United States.  Community foundations in the U.S. hold approximately $44.8 billion in assets.  In 2005, community foundations gave $3.2 billion to a wide variety of nonprofit activities, including urban affairs, the arts, education, environmental projects, health and disaster relief. 


Community foundations can accept gifts of various sizes and types from private citizens, corporations, government agencies and other foundations.  Nearly every type of gift-including real estate, closely held stock and artwork- can be contributed to a community foundation.  Gifts are made from bequests and by living donors through various types of funds and deferred giving vehicles. Community foundations range in asset size of several billion dollars to those with assets of $100,000 or less. The Community Foundation is affiliated with the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation which is the sixth argest community foundation with assets of 1,636,468,707 as of 12/31/2012. The funds are invested in diverse portfolios and sound investment management is a major aspect of community foundations’ work.


All share the common goal of serving donors, nonprofit organizations and the community as a whole.  In addition, one of a community foundation’s special functions is to evaluate and help coordinate the needs and services in its communities, so that charitable gifts are used effectively to fulfill a community’s most critical needs.


Whether you're a potential donor, a professional advisor, a local nonprofit director, or someone who's simply concerned about the future of Kansas, connecting with your local community foundation is the first step toward a better tomorrow for your community