Community foundations have been improving the lives of people and communities for more than 100 years.

Common Questions

Here are the answers to the four most common questions people have about community foundations:

Community foundations are tax-exempt, publicly supported, nonprofit organizations devoted to improving the communities they serve in perpetuity – forever – by working closely with charitably minded individuals, families, businesses and nonprofits. Community foundations help local philanthropists of all income levels create or support permanent charitable funds that issue grants to the causes and organizations they love. Community foundations are especially good vehicles for carrying out donors' legacy giving plans.

The first community foundation was established in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1914. Now, there are more than 800 community foundations all across the country. We are the largest community foundation in Connecticut in terms of geographic area served – covering nearly one-third of the state.

The IRS categorizes community foundations as public charities since they receive support from a wide and varied group of donors. This designation gives them important tax advantages over private foundations which often have just one or a few donors. In addition, community foundations are allowed by law to treat all the funds under their care as part of a single corporation, which provides administrative and investment advantages over private foundations. To learn more, see Alternatives to Private Foundations

Most nonprofit organizations have a specific charitable priority that they focus on within their defined mission. Community foundations, by contrast, typically have a broad range of philanthropic priorities that reflect the specific interests of the individuals, families, businesses and nonprofits that establish or support charitable funds with the foundation. Read more about Our Work and Our Priorities

United Ways typically focuses on particular health and human service needs, while a community foundation's scope of funding is much broader and includes working in many areas such early childhood care, education, arts and culture, the environment and animal welfare, as well as health and human services. Community foundations also convene partners and advocate for various causes such as advancing women’s rights, gender equity, zoning reform and racial justice.

Community foundations strive to build a long-term endowment via permanent funds, while the United Way’s efforts are geared towards obtaining funding for shorter term to address immediate needs within the community. Thus, the two organizations complement one another in advancing community wellbeing for both today and tomorrow.

Both organizations are important resources to our region and bring different approaches to the issues of addressing community need. And by working together – as we did most recently during the pandemic – we can be an enormously powerful philanthropic force.

The Community Foundation of Eastern Connecticut offers flexible and nimble ways for you to make a lasting difference in your community. We can help you make a meaningful charitable impact on the issues and nonprofits you are passionate about – whatever your financial means. And, we offer you the opportunity to meet, learn and give together with other people who care deeply about our region. Read more about Why Donors Choose Us