Whether you’re just starting out, or a seasoned pro, it’s good to know what kind of nonprofit foundations exist and how they differ. In this post, we’ll help you understand what a community foundation is and who they might partner with in their communities.

What is a nonprofit foundation?

A nonprofit foundation is an organization that supports charitable acts for the good of the nonprofit sector and the constituencies nonprofits serve. Foundations grant nonprofit organizations funding for general or operating support, or for program development or project support. The three basic types of foundations are community, corporate, and private foundations. In this post, we’ll focus on community foundations.

Tip: some foundations will grant funding to a broad range of missions and causes, while others may be more limited to specific nonprofit missions or organizations located in a specific geographic location.

What is a Community Foundation?

Community foundations are publicly supported and are operated by and for the benefit of a specific geographic community, population group, or area of interest. These foundations all actively fundraise and pool the funds of many donors to enable them to make larger investments and increase their returns.

Community foundations serve three publics, including its donors, the nonprofit sector, and the community that they were established to serve. Individual community foundations make decisions regarding their emphasis, but by structure and regulation they must always serve all three of these publics.

There are three categories of funding to which donors can contribute to community foundations.

  • Unrestricted funds are a general gift to the foundation.
  • Field of interest funds are a gift to a particular activity or program of the foundation.
  • Donor advised funds is the most restricted. Donors typically want to be very involved in making recommendations regarding the organizations to receive support from their fund. This is a fast growing area in philanthropy and for most of the community foundations in Minnesota, donor advised gifts represent the largest portion of their grants payout.

Some examples of community foundations are: Minneapolis Foundation, California Community Foundation, Community Foundation of The Lowcountry, Rock Island Community Foundation, and Duluth Superior Area Community Foundation.

Curious about other types of foundations? Read about corporate foundations or private foundations here.

Whether you are new to grantwriting or a seasoned pro, we want to make sure you’ve got all the information and resources you need to succeed in their charitable missions. Check out our Grantwriting Basics posts for more essential information about grantwriting.