A community foundation is a nonprofit organization created to meet the needs of the community. A community foundation serves three principal groups: donors, charitable organizations, and the community as a whole.
- It serves donors by providing a vehicle to establish a permanent charitable fund. It also allows donors to make charitable contributions to already existing charitable funds.
- It serves charitable organizations by providing technical and administrative services. It also strives to identify and address emerging community needs and to make or encourage grants to address those needs.
- It serves the community as a whole by promoting local philanthropy in many forms.
In 1914, a Cleveland banker developed the concept of a community foundation. This allowed many separate charitable funds to centralize their administration and thereby reduce their costs and allow more of their assets to be distributed to worthy causes in the community. Today there are more than 700 community foundations in the United States. The community foundation is the fastest growing form of philanthropy and is often among the first to support the emerging needs of its community.