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Community Foundations


Community foundations are non-profit organizations that use local resources to meet local needs. For more than three decades, the Mott Foundation has supported developing and strengthening community foundations as local leaders of positive change. Today, Mott supports the field domestically and abroad. This work is funded through the Foundation’s Civil Society program.

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Triangle Community Foundation, like community foundations around the globe, is a nonprofit organization working to enhance the lives of local residents. Centrally located to Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill, North Carolina, the foundation is a partner for donors, a funder of nonprofits, and a resource for local issues.

The Cluj Community Foundation is one of a dozen such organizations located throughout Romania. It is recognized as a local leader that engages residents to raise funds that support a variety of community causes that improve lives and Cluj society overall. The video is in English with Romanian subtitles.


Mott's most recent annual report celebrates centennial of community foundations worldwide

Mott Foundation 2012 Annual Report — Community Foundations: Rooted Locally. Growing Globally.The Charles Stewart Mott Foundation’s most recent annual report, Community Foundations: Rooted Locally. Growing Globally., celebrates the 100th anniversary of the community foundation movement — an American contribution to local philanthropy — as well as the Foundation’s long-standing commitment to the growth and vitality of the field.

The publication was timed for release as the field began a year-long commemoration in 2014 of the phenomenal spread of the concept. From a single community foundation begun in Cleveland, Ohio in 1914, the field has mushroomed to 1,750 today, with these local philanthropic institutions existing on every continent except Antarctica and in more than 50 countries.

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U.K. community foundations are going the distance

Penny Johnstone, first director of Greater Bristol Trust (now called Quartet Community Foundation)In 1989, Penny Johnstone embarked on her first across-the-pond adventure — traveling from Bristol, England, to San Diego, California — to learn more about the community foundation concept so she could promote it. As director of the Greater Bristol Trust, one of fewer than a dozen community foundations in the U.K. at the time, Johnstone was determined to know how to operate a publicly owned, place-based grantmaking institution that collected local funds to meet immediate needs while simultaneously growing a pot of money to address future challenges. It was a new concept that wasn’t easily explained or understood, yet it carried great potential, she said.

“What appealed to me was the community aspect of funding,” Johnstone said. “Community foundations were not just about giving handouts to local organizations but actually asking them, ‘What do you see as the need, and how can we help you address it?’ We were inviting others into our discussions about giving.” 

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Publications for the Field

The Case for Community Philanthropy: How the Practice Builds Local Assets, Capacity, and Trust—and Why It MattersThe Value of Community Philanthropy: Results of a ConsultationThe Balancing Act: The Roles of a Community FoundationSowing the Seeds of Local Philanthropy: Two Decades in the Field of Community Foundations


Mott showcases community foundations

Community foundations seriesThe Mott Foundation created a multi-part series examining the field’s growth and development. The series reports on what is occurring and how the field is expanding globally. It also highlights the work of grantees in Mott's key funding regions.


Additional Resources

  Academy for the Development of Philanthropy in Poland   Association of Slovak Community Foundations   CFLeads   Community Foundations of Canada   Comunalia   Council on Foundations Community Foundations Leadership Team
  Czech Association of Community Foundations   Global Fund for Community Foundations   Ibero-American Network of Community Foundations   Russian Community Foundation Partnership   UK Community Foundations   WINGS' Community Foundation Global Status Report 2010