Celebrating Community Foundations

The Community Foundation Atlas map gives an interactive view of the field's global reach.

Tomorrow marks the beginning of Community Foundation Week 2016! Nov. 12-18, we’re joining more than 780 community foundations across the country celebrating this recognition week and the impact of our field in communities nationwide.  

Cleveland roots

As the world’s first community foundation and one of the largest today, the Cleveland Foundation is particularly proud to celebrate the history and future of the community foundation movement. It’s remarkable how the field has flourished since our founder, Frederick Harris Goff, launched the Cleveland Foundation in 1914. For an interactive journey through the Cleveland Foundation’s history over the past 102 years, visit our centennial history site.

A visionary idea

Goff’s idea was simple, but unprecedented in 1914: a community trust built by the people, for the people. The trust would act as a community savings account, earning interest and investment income. Citizen trustees, representing all sectors of the community, would then award grants from the earnings to worthy nonprofit organizations and causes. Goff’s democratic vision took root with the Cleveland Foundation, and quickly spread across the country and world.

Global growth

Today, there are more than 780 community foundations in the United States, and it remains one of the fastest growing philanthropic sectors in the country. Outside the U.S. and Canada, it’s estimated there are more than 1,000 community foundations across around globe. In fact, there are community foundations on every continent except Antarctica. In 2014, as a gift to the field in our centennial year, we helped launch the Community Foundation Atlas. It’s the most comprehensive dataset about community foundations ever published, and it’s available right here.  

Mighty impact

According to the Foundation Center, community foundations received an estimated $7.5 billion in gifts, gave $5 billion in grants and held total assets of $65 billion in 2012. The Foundation Center also reports that even though community foundations represent just 1% of the more than 82,000 foundations in the United States, their gifts represented 9% of total giving. Thanks to the generosity of our donors, the Cleveland Foundation granted nearly $95 million in 2015 alone. Get the details on our grantmaking here.

Philanthropic expertise

It’s not just about dollars; community foundations offer expertise and guidance on critical needs in the community and the organizations working to address them. Whether a donor wants to give locally or support an organization thousands of miles away, community foundations act as an expert philanthropic partner, helping make the most of charitable dollars and make the giving process as smooth as possible. Learn about the value of partnering with the Cleveland Foundation for charitable giving here.

In the coming week, we’ll be celebrating the unique impact and importance of community foundations. We invite you to share your thoughts on community foundations and join the national conversation using #CFWeek.