A community foundation can be a successful means of raising and providing funds for start-up projects and making significant contributions to charitable projects and programs.

The first community foundation was formed in the American city of Cleveland in 1908, the brainchild of lawyer Frederick Harris Goff. His aim was to pool bequests from wills and collect donations from the wider community, allowing more people to become involved in philanthropy.

The idea spread throughout the United States , and today there are more than 500 foundations in the US and 110 in Canada. The UK took up the concept in the 1980s, and Australia joined the trend in 1983 with the establishment of the Victorian Community Foundation.

A community foundation is an independent philanthropic organisation working in a specific geographic area or with a particular focus. It attracts tax-deductible donations to its Public Fund and builds a capital base known as the corpus – a fund of money invested in perpetuity. The income earned each year is returned to the community as annual grants to tax-deductible charities or other eligible projects. A foundation can also apply for and win funding from other sources that flows through to community projects and programs.

A community foundation’s aims are to:

  • Assist community development
  • Provide community leadership
  • Increase communication among various business, government, philanthropic and community groups
  • Promote effective giving
  • Raise awareness of significant community and social issues
  • Create a lasting community asset.

A community foundation also aims to make it easier for people to give during their lifetime, see the results of their donations and give the community an opportunity to plan for its own needs and aspirations.

It is formed by interested local people, controlled by a local Board of Directors and administered by volunteers and part-time employees.

What can a community foundation achieve?

A community foundation brings together a diverse range of stakeholders in rural and metropolitan communities to help provide them with resources to initiate key social, environmental and cultural activities.

Some key characteristics are:

  • Multiple sources 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
  • Tax-deductible donations must go to charities endorsed as deductible gift recipients.


  • People who live or work in the community
  • Donors – individual or corporate (of any size) can realise their community giving goals
  • Not for profit charitable organisations
  • Volunteers – a successful foundation relies heavily on volunteers – as Board and committee members and to work in fundraising and administration.
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  • Boroondara Cares Foundation updated their profile picture.

  • Check out the new foundation website at: http://www.boroondaracares.org.au/

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