What is a Community Foundation?

Community Foundations build and strengthen communities by making it possible for a wide range of donors to participate in creating permanent (and often named) funds to meet present and future needs. Simply put, a community foundation is a platform for building community. There are more than 800 community foundations independently operating across the United States, and each is unique in its focus and how it serves its community.

While each community foundation is different, there are some things that most community foundations have in common.

Community foundations provide flexible giving options to help individuals, families and businesses make a lasting difference in their community by supporting all types of local nonprofits and initiatives.

Most contributions to a community foundation are treated as endowments and are permanently invested to produce income. This income is then used to help meet the community’s charitable needs and interests.

Donors can set up individual funds in their name or the name of a loved one and can decide what organizations or causes benefit from the fund. Donors can also choose to contribute to a variety of existing funds, including funds that support the greatest areas of need in the community as they change over time. The community foundation board of directors, representing the community, oversees all funds.

A community foundation is governed by a volunteer board of directors, who are chosen for their knowledge of the community and fairly represent the diversity within it. The directors possess expertise in the areas of management that are necessary to carry out the functions of the foundation. The organization is also supported by volunteer committees who drive decision making around grants and scholarships.

Besides providing financial support, community foundations also play a role in collaborating with a range of local partners and stakeholders, acting as catalysts for positive change.

The Community Foundation of Frederick County, founded in 1986, holds close to 800 funds and has distributed $63 million in grants and $31 million in scholarships.

The Community Foundation of Frederick County connects people who care – donors, with causes that matter – nonprofits, to make Frederick County an amazing place to live, work and play for all community members.

The Benefits of Working with a Community Foundation

  • Local Engagement. The Community Foundation identifies and works with local organizations and agencies to address community needs and issues.
  • Permanence. As a safe and permanent endowment, you can be assured that the earnings from your gifts will continue to support the agencies and residents of your community, forever.
  • Flexibility. You have the flexibility of choosing from several types of funds and your donations may include cash, stock shares, life insurance, real estate, cryptocurrency and other types of gifts.
  • Tax Incentives. As a contribution to a public charity, gifts to the Community Foundation can be deducted from income taxes as allowed by the IRS. In most instances, by donating appreciated assets, you can eliminate the capital gains tax you would otherwise incur by selling the assets. And by contributing funds through your estate, estate taxes can be avoided.
  • Personalized and Professional. Our professional staff has broad expertise and understanding of community issues and needs and we provide highly personalized service tailored to each individual’s charitable and financial interests. We partner with professional advisors to create highly effective approaches to charitable giving.
  • Innovative and Nimble. As shown during the COVID-19 pandemic, The Community Foundation of Frederick County can address emerging needs quickly, sometimes by partnering with other entities and organizations to make the most impact. We also work with donors to come up with individualized and creative solutions to meet their charitable giving needs and wishes.