What is a Community Foundation?

A Community Foundation is an incorporated body with the following characteristics:

  1. it is
  2. it engages in
    community building activities

    and may also make grants, usually for a defined geographic region

  3. the directors and members are

    to the relevant geographic region

  4. it is able to

    a broad range of charitable purposes

  5. it is supported by a number of

source: Herbert Smith Freehills

  • 8.5 million Australians served by community foundations
  • 39 independent, community-owned community foundations in Australia
  • 120 Local Government Areas with access to a community foundation
  • $31 million granted in the 2018-19 financial year
  • $415 million in funds under management
  • 62% asset growth from 2013 to 2018


Community Foundations (CFs) are embedded in the communities they serve. 

With deep local knowledge and networks, they are ideally placed to partner with funders seeking to make a difference in local communities, especially in rural and regional areas, to build social equity in Australia and ensure the success of community development initiatives.

Local empowerment, community ownership and leadership, and a focus on place are central to the work of Community Foundations.  

How do Community Foundations work?

This video is part of a series developed by the former Office for the Community Sector in the Victorian Government Department for Health and Human Services in collaboration with Community Foundations.

ACP acknowledges the Department’s support and kind permission for sharing this video.

Credit: State of Victoria

Find a Community Foundation near you

Community Foundations are vital building blocks for civil society.

Today, they are more important than ever as civic institutions and democracy come under increasing pressure.

Learn more about how community foundations address social and community issues at a local level with local leadership on our Resources page.

International Perspectives


Community Foundations of Canada

United States

The Council on Foundations has several arms that support Community Foundations:

Center for Community Foundation Excellence
The annual Fall Conference for Community Foundations

Community foundations and community funds are a great way for everybody to participate in philanthropy and give back to their local community.

If you’re thinking of starting:

  1. Research what foundations or other philanthropic vehicles already exist in your community and consider whether you want to create your own or contribute to one of them.
  2. Think about what vehicle might suit you best – an independent community foundation, opening a sub-fund with a larger community foundation or trustee company, establishing a Donation Account with the Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal (FRRR)
  3. Talk to other community leaders and organisations in your community who might want to join your efforts and be part of a foundation or fund. Get in touch with your city council, and perhaps local corporate leaders to see if they would like to collaborate with you.
  4. Investigate the intricacies of the Australian Not-for-Profits taxation system, and make sure you understand what kind of entities you need to set up in order to achieve your objectives. This can be complicated, so seek help from other established community foundations, and from specialised legal eagles.
  5. Contact with Australian Community Philanthropy. While you will need professional advice to establish a community foundation, we can assist you with preliminary questions and help you to tap into the right advisors.

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