What is a Community Foundation?

We're a Part of a Worldwide Movement of Communities coming Together to Help Themselves. 

carJust what is a community foundation? It’s a tax-exempt public charity created by and for the people in a local area. A community foundation helps people with philanthropic interests to easily and effectively support the issues they care about – immediately, or through their will.

Donors can establish a charitable fund at the foundation by contributing a variety of assets and may also recommend grants – in their name, if they choose – to nonprofit groups they want to support.

Funds at a community foundation, most of which are endowed, are pooled for the long-term benefit of the community. A common analogy is that a community foundation functions as a community’s “collective savings account.” The economy of scale offered by a pooled body of funds helps maximize investment returns while keeping costs low.

Community foundations are the nation’s fastest-growing form of philanthropy, largely because they make good sense. The first was founded in Cleveland in 1914, and today there are more than 700 community foundations across the country, collectively holding more than $31 billion in permanent charitable funds.

For donors, community foundations make charitable giving easy, flexible and effective by connecting their interests and priorities to the needs of the community. They offer an excellent way for people to participate in the “big pictures” in their community – efforts that will truly make a difference for this generation and those to come.

Our Community Foundation: Seventeen Years Old… and Growing Fast.

DogThroughout the 1990s, groups of local citizens discussed the need for a charity that could help local donors pool assets to tackle community-wide issues. Ironically, it was the dissolution of the Chattahoochee Valley Fair that created the catalyst to move the idea forward. The Fair, which had operated as a nonprofit charity for many years, decided to cease operations, partly because of the changing climate of community fairs and the organization’s displacement during the construction of South Commons and the Civic Center.

It gave the bulk of its accumulated assets – some $600,000 –– to form the core of a fund for the Chattahoochee Valley, and Community Foundation was born.

Officially launched in early 1998, the organization grew quickly over the next few years, reaching $9.5 million in assets by the end of 2001. By the end of Fiscal Year 2015, assets had grown to over $106 million, with more than 230 Funds established to meet community needs.