What is a Community Foundation?

Simply put, a community foundation has three functions. 

  • Making grants
  • Serving as a vehicle for the philanthropy of individuals, corporations and organizations that have concern for a specific geographic area
  • Providing leadership in the region it serves

The Council on Foundations, the nation’s professional association of foundations, has outlined six characteristics of community foundations: 

  • Flexible, yet permanent collection of funds supported by a wide range of donors
  • Relative independence to determine the best use of those funds to meet community needs
  • Governing board of volunteers, knowledgeable about their community and recognized for their involvement in civic affairs
  • Commitment to provide leadership on pervasive community problems
  • Commitment to assist donors to identify and attain their philanthropic goals
  • Adherence to a sense of “community” that overrides individual interests and concerns

Community foundations go beyond simply making grants that advance charitable activities. They also identify current and emerging issues, channel resources to address their communities’ needs and help their regions prepare for the future.

Compliance with National Standards

The National Standards Seal indicates official confirmation from the Council on Foundations that we have met the most rigorous standards in philanthropy. It affirms our commitment to financial security, transparency and accountability. It says our grantmaking includes an open, competitive process designed to address the changing needs of our community. The National Standards Seal also confirms our history of honoring donors’ wishes—to support the arts, cultivate gardens, save endangered species, cure illness, expand literacy, feed children—and support countless other important causes.

The National Standards for U.S. Community Foundations Program was established in 2000 in cooperation with the Council on Foundations. National Standards guide community foundations in establishing legal, ethical and effective operational practices that serve as blueprints for internal development and benchmarks for external assessment. The 43 National Standards require The Community Foundation of Western North Carolina to document its policies in donor services, investment management, grantmaking and administration. To receive confirmation of National Standards compliance, The Community Foundation of Western North Carolina submitted its organizational and financial policies and procedures to a rigorous peer review.

What is a community foundation?  Watch a short video about CFWNC.

There are 1,800 community foundations around the world.  Learn more.

Contact Us

Staff Directory
Email Us

Find Us

4 Vanderbilt Park Drive
Suite 300
Asheville, NC 28803

Receive Email Updates