Columbus Survey Shows Continued Growth in Benchmarks for Community Foundations in 2013

The Council on Foundations and CF Insights today released Guideposts for Growth and Aspirations,the field’s most comprehensive report on U.S. community foundation assets, gifts, and grants. The data were collected from 285 U.S. community foundations, including those representing more than 90 percent of total estimated community foundation assets in the United States. In 2013, community foundation assets, gifts, and grants continued to grow and exceed the new heights experienced in 2012.

The Council on Foundations and CF Insights recognize the critical role community foundations play in our country and around the world. These new data demonstrate that many community foundations are well positioned to strengthen the communities they serve.

Highlights from the study include:

  • The community foundation field represents $66B in assets, $7.5B in gifts, and $4.9B in grants
  • Virtually all Columbus Survey participants experienced increases in assets in 2013, with over 90% now managing assets that exceed 2007 levels
  • Grantmaking by community foundations increased by an average of 11% from 2012 and 2013
  • Donor advised funds continue to be a driver of growth and grantmaking for community foundations, representing approximately an average 40% of a community foundation’s total gifts and grants
  • Administrative fees represent the most significant revenue source for community foundations, but the degree to which varies by asset size
  • Operating budgets continue their upward trend as community foundations invest more in staff and leadership

“Community foundations play a key role in building thriving communities," said Vikki Spruill, President and CEO of the Council on Foundations. “This report provides vital information on the landscape of place-based giving and will help the philanthropic sector better understand the role of place-based giving in a changing world.”

“The growth in grantmaking and leadership capacity is particularly exciting, given what it means for community foundations’ ability to serve their communities,” said Rebecca Graves, Executive Director of CF Insights.

CF Insights makes the 2013 asset, gift, and grant survey data available to community foundations on its website. Additionally, survey participants and members of CF Insights have access to a variety of reports that offer a better understanding of growth and performance when compared to peers. Using metrics focused on asset development, grantmaking, investment performance, and sustainability, foundations can compare their 2013 performance to similar organizations and determine accurate and appropriate benchmarks for the future.

The Columbus Survey was produced by The Columbus Foundation from 1988 to 2007. In 2009, it was transitioned to CF Insights.


About the Council on Foundations

The Council on Foundations (, formed in 1949, is a nonprofit membership association of grantmaking foundations and corporations. Members of the Council include nearly 1,600 independent, operating, community, public and company-sponsored foundations, and corporate giving programs in the United States and abroad. The Council’s mission is to provide the opportunity, leadership, and tools needed by philanthropic organizations to expand, enhance, and sustain their ability to advance the common good.

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