Our Story

Community foundations have been in existence for over 100 years, during which time they have become a global philanthropic movement, operating in over 1,800 communities worldwide.

How it all began

The first community foundation was set up in America in 1914, as a way for the Cleveland Trust Company to manage multiple small endowments for the benefit of Cleveland.

Like other philanthropists at the time, they had trouble finding beneficiaries for their grants, and needed to improve efficiency.  Their solution was to design a model that would look at the root causes of problems in communities instead of being cause specific, engage local people in decision making and be more efficient.

Man siting on bench playing a small guitar Cloth Cat Music, supported by Leeds Community Foundation

Community foundations in the UK

The UK chapter of the community foundation story began in Swindon in 1975, later merging with the Wiltshire Community Trust to form the present Wiltshire Community Foundation.  Many other community foundations were formed during the 1980s and in 1991 the Community Foundation Network was established to invite cooperation and to share best practice.

In 2013, the Community Foundation Network relaunched as UK Community Foundations.

There are 47 accredited members in our UK network. All have completed our rigorous Quality Accreditation process and, between them, serve every community in the UK. 

Learn more about our network

Our international members

We are delighted to have three international members in our community foundation network: Jersey Community Foundation, Bermuda Community Foundation, and Community Foundation for Ireland.

We support our international members by sharing best practice and resources, helping them to achieve our Quality Accreditation, and collaborating with them to elevate local philanthropy and effective grant making. You can find more details about our international members on our network map below.

Group of woman holding a mix of laptops and tablets smiling at the cameraBlack Butterfly, supported by Sussex Community Foundation (Picture: Darren Cool)

Our network

Find your local community foundation


Working for UKCF

Make a difference and become part of the UKCF team. Learn more

Disaster Response

Community foundations are there for communities in times of disaster. Learn more

Sharing our data

We are publishing our data on 360Giving in our commitment to sharing transparent data. Learn more