Community foundations

What is a Community foundation?

A community foundation is an independent philanthropic organisation that enables local donors to contribute cash, trusts, bequests or real property to create permanent endowments that benefit a specific geographic area.

How are Community foundations funded?

A community foundation attracts tax deductible donations to its Public Fund and builds a capital base known as a corpus (a fund of money invested in perpetuity), to provide a permanent and growing source of funding. The income earned each year is returned to the community as annual grants to deductible gift recipients or other tax deductible entities. In addition, the community foundation through its governing charitable company or trust can support wider charitable purposes.

What can a Community foundation achieve?

Community foundations bring together a diverse range of stakeholders in rural and metropolitan communities to provide them with tools and resources to initiate key social, environmental and cultural activities.

Once established, the foundations grow in their communities and develop a character appropriate to the location. However, there are key characteristics common to all community foundations, such as:

  • Multiple sources and levels of funding from a range of donors.
  • Provision of a permanent and growing source of funding for charitable activities, which will strengthen the local community.
  • A local focus on charitable giving and grant-making
  • Initial donations form the corpus and are invested, with the generated income being distributed as grants on an annual basis. Some community foundations choose to use part of their initial donations to establish their grant-making capability.

Philanthropy Australia is committed to the growth and development of community foundations around Australia. We have a special Membership rate for community foundations in consideration of the early stages of development at which most community foundations in Australia currently operate.

Useful Resources

Foundation Maps: Australia

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