Who We Are
What is a Community Foundation?
Community Foundations unite groups of people who care about their communities. They are independent, volunteer-driven, charitable organizations that aim to strengthen their communities by facilitating philanthropy, by partnering with donors to build permanent endowments, and by seeking out other funds to support community projects.
Founded on trust, Community Foundations help donors achieve their charitable goals by investing financial capital in their community, while stimulating and nurturing relationships to create a sense of belonging to a community.
Community Foundations: An Overview of Some Special Strengths
- A long-term view: Because community foundations focus on building permanent endowments and support, they are able to tackle long-term community challenges as well as immediate ones;
- Permanence: Gifts to a community foundation endowment are designed to meet community needs in perpetuity;
- Community-based, personalized donor service: Community foundations are uniquely equipped to help individual donors meet their particular philanthropic goals by providing in-depth knowledge of community support opportunities and expertise in a wide range of flexible charitable giving options;
- A broad perspective: Community foundations make effective grants and develop networks in a wide range of sectors. With this in-depth community knowledge they can identify opportunities in many fields and build on existing community strengths. They are also well placed to make often powerful connections between people and organizations in the community;
- Commitment to community service: Community foundations are broad-based, volunteer-driven local organizations. Because their independent view of community issues and priorities crosses many sectors, community foundations have an opportunity for collaborative leadership that transcends “special interests” and reflects the broader interests of the community;
- Accountability: Community foundations believe that their values and way of working, not just their work, are powerful tools for building social capital. As a responsible volunteer group, community foundations strive for flexible, transparent governance and leadership practices that welcome volunteer involvement, encourage dialogue among diverse voices in the community, and inspire commitment to philanthropy.
The Three Roles of Community Foundations
Community foundations have three main roles:
- Endowment building and flexible, comprehensive donor services
- Broad and effective grantmaking
- Serving our community as a resource and partner
While these roles are always the same, every community foundation is unique in the way it fulfills these roles and in the priority it places on each. The emphasis on each role can vary at different times in a community foundation’s development. As they work toward fully implementing all three roles, individual community foundations will focus on each role to a different degree.
Community Foundations are committed to:
- Philanthropy, especially through community foundations, as a powerful catalyst for strengthening communities in Canada and around the world
- Visionary leadership that welcomes innovative approaches, builds on strengths, models inclusiveness, and takes appropriate risks
- Collaborative relationships among members, volunteers, staff and other organizations that respect independence and diversity, and that foster dialogue and a sharing of ideas and experiences
- Open and accountable practices that reflect the highest possible standards of performance as both a membership association and a leader in promoting philanthropy