What is a Community Foundation?

A community foundation is a tax-exempt public charity that helps individuals, families, groups and organizations accomplish their philanthropic goals through a named charitable fund. The funds are managed professionally and endowed assets will grow over time.  There are currently over 700 community foundations in the United States. 

What differentiates a community foundation from other forms of organized philanthropy? Three features:

  • Personalized service - we help individuals, families, groups and organizations achieve their charitable and financial goals by offering tools and resources that make giving easy, flexible, and efficient.
  • Local expertise - we have a knowledge of local issues, needs, and organizations that allows us to help you make your giving as effective as possible.
  • Community leadership - we act as a community catalyst, bringing together diverse voices and groups to address issues, foster greater giving and support high-impact opportunities.
As the world’s first community foundation, The Cleveland Foundation decided to commemorate its centennial in 2014 by making a significant contribution to the community foundation movement that had its start a century earlier in Cleveland, Ohio. The foundation teamed with several leading authorities and advocates to map the individual identities, locations, assets, roles and achievements of place-based and other community philanthropies around the world. Learn more about our growing field on the Community Foundation Atlas Web site.


The Winston-Salem Foundation has been recognized for having organizational and financial practices that are in accordance with the National Standards for U.S. Community Foundations.  In 2000, The Council on Foundations (www.cof.org) and leaders in the community foundation field created National Standards to establish legal, ethical, and effective operational practices that would show community foundations' transparency and financial responsibility in the light of increased public scrutiny of foundation practices.  In 2012, after a thorough recertification process, the Foundation received National Standards reaccreditation from the Council on Foundations.


©2005-2018 The Winston-Salem Foundation • 751 W Fourth St, Suite 200 • Winston-Salem, NC 27101 • 336.725.2382