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 give to a wide variety of nonprofit activities, including urban affairs, the arts, education, environmental projects, health and disaster relief. The concept has spread throughout the world, with approximately 1,000 community foundations outside the United States and Canada.


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 greatly in asset size. All share the common goal of serving donors, nonprofit organizations, and the community as a whole. Funds are invested in diverse portfolios and sound investment management is a major aspect of community foundation work.The Community Foundation of Southeast Kansas is affiliated with the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation. 




States across the country are experiencing an unprecedented transfer of wealth as estates change hands from one generation to the next. By 2020 in Kansas alone the transfer of wealth is estimated to be $79 billion, and will increase to $598 billion by 2064.

Many people designate their entire estate to their children. Since more people leave the communities where they were raised much of the inherited wealth leave, too. The Keep 5 in Kansas campaign promotes capturing 5% of the estate wealth which could be up to $4 billion going back to communities.