Maryland Bar Bulletin
Publications : Bar Bulletin : January 2007

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Community Foundations in US, MD – 2006

Community foundations are publicly-supported foundations operated by, and for the benefit of, a specific community or geographic region.

The first community foundation was started in Cleveland in 1914 when separate charitable trusts were consolidated into one institution. Since then, community foundations have become one of the fastest-growing forms of philanthropy.

Community foundations receive their funds from a variety of individual donors and provide a vehicle for donors to establish philanthropic funds without incurring the costs of starting a foundation. They build and strengthen communities by making it possible for a wide range of donors to create permanent, named component funds to meet critical needs.

Governance and Operation

Community Foundations are overseen by diverse volunteer boards and operated by paid professional staff with expertise in understanding the community's issues, needs and resources.

For Donors

Community foundations offer donors many services and benefits. They routinely work with families, individuals, attorneys and estate and financial planners to design gift plans that fit every economic situation, ensuring that donors receive the most benefit from their charitable contributions and that their philanthropic dollars are used to the fullest potential.

Current Outlook of Community Foundation Giving

Community foundation giving has more than doubled since 1995. These foundations hold approximately $39.4 billion in assets throughout the country. In 2004, community foundations gave more than $3 billion to a wide variety of nonprofit activities. Today, there are nearly 750 community foundations in the country.

Maryland's Community Foundations

Maryland is home to 10 community foundations:

  • Baltimore Community Foundation
  • Community Foundation of Carroll County
  • Community Foundation of the Chesapeake
  • Columbia Foundation
  • Community Foundation of the Eastern Shore
  • Community Foundation of Frederick County
  • Mid-Shore Community Foundation
  • Montgomery County Community Foundation
  • Prince George's Community Foundation
  • Community Foundation of Washington County

These foundations have more than $320 million in assets, and distributed more than $50 million in 2005 (to view a giving profile on each foundation, visit www.mdcommunity foundations.org).

Currently, three new community foundations are being formed: Charles County Community Foundation; Harford County Community Foundation; and the Community Foundation of Allegany and Garrett Counties.

Maryland Community Foundations Initiative

To strengthen and enhance the presence of community foundations in Maryland, the state's 10 community foundations joined together to form the Maryland Community Foundations Initiative (MCFI). This six-year effort is housed at the Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers.

Currently, MCFI efforts concentrate on National Standards, statewide availability of community foundations and marketing to professional advisors.

The Council on Foundation's National Standards was developed by a group of community foundation practitioners. Community foundations across the country have pledged to adopt and implement these, and several of Maryland's foundations already have.

Buffy Beaudoin-Schwartz is Director of the Maryland Community Foundations Initiative.

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Publications : Bar Bulletin: January 2007

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