We are Your Community Foundation

Your Community Foundation

We are Your Community Foundation

You’ve likely heard of family foundations like the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation or the Leon Levine Foundation, or their corporate cousins such as the Ford or Walmart Foundations. These organizations were created with the wealth of the families or companies that run them, and the causes supported by these foundations are chosen by the family members or company.

By contrast, a community foundation is a collection of funds created by many residents of a city or region – and may include families, businesses and even nonprofits. Each of these “fundholders” can choose the causes or charities they want to support – such as establishing a scholarship fund or supporting a single nonprofit or a broader area of community need (such as the environment or animal welfare).

Foundation For The Carolinas is the community foundation serving a 13-county region surrounding Charlotte. We work with charitably-minded individuals, businesses and nonprofits throughout the region by helping each one maximize the impact of their gifts.

The Genesis of a New Way to Give

The first community foundation was established in Cleveland by banker Frederick Harris Goff in 1914. Goff believed in the idea of a “community trust,” the concept that permanent pooled charitable resources - managed by the members of a community for the benefit of a community - was more democratic and effective in the long run.

“How fine it would be (if an individual who was) about to make a will could go to a permanently established organization … and say, ‘Here is a large sum of money,” Goff said. “I want to leave it to be used for the good of the community, but I have no way of knowing what the greatest need 50 years from now will be. Therefore, I place it in your hands to determine what should be done.”

The newly created Cleveland Foundation allowed donors to leave assets to be used for the good of the community, no matter how needs and opportunities change over time, and the community foundation movement began.

Eventually community foundations also began offering new ways for donors to give back in ways that achieve their own unique giving goals and preferences. For example, donor advised funds – the fastest-growing form of philanthropy in the U.S. – are a cost effective, streamlined alternative to private foundations. Fundholders can create a donor advised fund through a variety of assets – like cash, stock or even real estate – and then distribute grants, on their own timeline, to the charities they value.

Today there are more than 900 community foundations in the United States, each serving their own geographic footprint and supporting their communities’ unique needs.

Community Foundations in their Communities

Many community foundations believe that, in addition to helping fundholders achieve their philanthropic goals, the foundation itself should also be involved in efforts to address pressing issues in the region by building partnerships and encouraging generosity.

That’s why Foundation For The Carolinas launched the Robinson Center for Civic Leadership – to convene partners to address (and collectively fund) our region’s greatest needs and opportunities. We’ve spearheaded initiatives to support the arts, green space, affordable housing, literacy and economic mobility, among others.

This work is made possible, in large part, thanks to fundholders who choose to partner with Foundation For The Carolinas. By establishing a fund with their local community foundation, they not only advance their own charitable vision, but they also support collective efforts to improve their community – thus, amplifying their impact.

“The purpose of community foundations is not just to benefit the community, but to raise funds for community needs,” said Roger Colinvaux in Defending Place-Based Philanthropy by Defining the Community Foundation. “Every community has needs that, absent government intervention, may go unmet. … The niche of the community foundation is to address this need.”

Contact our team at philanthropy@fftc.org or 704.973.4500 to learn more about partnering with Foundation For The Carolinas to bring your unique charitable vision to life.