The Philadelphia Foundation
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Frequently Asked Questions

What is The Philadelphia Foundation?

We are a “community foundation,” a pool of several hundred permanent, charitable trust funds created since 1918 to improve the quality of life in Southeastern Pennsylvania. For more than three generations, people of modest and magnificent means have turned to the Foundation as their philanthropic partner. They have entrusted us to invest their charitable dollars responsibly and use the generated revenue to provide grants and scholarships to the causes they care about. We award millions of dollars in grants each year that help hundreds of nonprofit organizations achieve excellence and prepare for tomorrow’s challenges in Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia Counties.

What is a "community" foundation?

The word "foundation" often suggests a wealthy family or corporation whose assets come from a single source and whose narrow philanthropic purposes are defined by a small group of people. A community foundation, on the other hand, is a collection of many trust funds established by local, civic-minded people to meet a wide range of community needs now and in the future. Pooling these dollars enables even the smallest component fund to achieve investment returns affected by an economy of scale, and to have its contributions guided by knowledgeable people who know which organizations best meet community needs. Community foundations respond quickly and specifically to local needs, and they endow community priorities for decades into the future.

Who can establish a fund?

Funds are created by individuals, families, private foundations, and corporations with a charitable vision. A community foundation also manages the endowment funds of many nonprofit organizations.

What are the advantages of using a community foundation?

A community foundation enables people to establish a charitable fund without having to cope with the complexities of setting up their own foundation. We make it possible for you to make certain your money serves specific charitable purposes. By being locally managed, we reflect the priorities of our community. We offer the security that the name of the charitable donor, or the person in whose name the fund is established, will be honored forever. The combination of flexibility, local support, tax advantages, long-term stability, expertise in financial management and grantmaking, convenience, and credibility has made community foundations the fastest-growing segment of American philanthropy today.

Is The Philadelphia Foundation the only community foundation?

We are one of the oldest of hundreds of community foundations in the U.S., and many in foreign countries, all dedicated to serving their community’s needs. View other community foundations across the United States.

Where does The Philadelphia Foundation get the money to award grants and scholarships?

From caring people like you! People who care about their community and who want to "give something back," or who wish to honor or memorialize someone, create our funds. We treasure these donors and their philanthropy, which will live forever. Learn more about creating a fund

How much does it cost to start a philanthropic fund?

Less than you think! For as little as $5,000, you can be a philanthropist and start a permanent, charitable fund that will grow and meet community needs today and tomorrow. You and your family and friends can continue to add to the fund and help it grow so it will help those in need. Once your fund reaches $10,000, it can begin awarding grants to community organizations – exactly as you intend.

What kinds of grants do you award?

The Foundation awards grants only to nonprofit 501(c)(3) organizations primarily in Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia Counties. We do not award grants to individuals. Our first obligation is to support the intentions of the donors who have created funds. With our “discretionary” assets, we nurture high performance in the nonprofit sector through capacity-building grants. To find out if your organization is eligible for funding please complete our Eligibility Wizard.

How do I apply for a grant?

There are no application deadlines, but there are definitive eligibility criteria. Please review the Grant Application Guidelines.

Who runs The Philadelphia Foundation?

Our Board of Managers, civic-minded leaders who serve without compensation, establishes policies governing operations. Board members are chosen for their professional expertise and understanding of community issues. Several are appointed by leading community institutions. Day-to-day activities are carried out by a dedicated and professional staff widely known for accessibility, knowledge of community issues, sensitivity, and commitment to the community foundation philosophy.

What else does The Philadelphia Foundation do?

We build assets to increase the permanent resources that will be available to meet future needs in the communities we serve. Our investment policy

and asset allocation strategy direct responsible stewardship designed to maintain and, if possible, increase assets' purchasing power over time. As a community convener, we identify emerging and emergency needs, and establish partnerships with other grantmakers, civic leaders, and local and national organizations. 

What is The Philadelphia Foundation's Mission Statement?

The Philadelphia Foundation is in the business of “building community” through:

  • Building philanthropic resources
  • Managing those resources well
  • Distributing those resources effectively

And we fulfill that Mission by:

  • Convening, leading and supporting
  • Focusing on vulnerable populations, our donors and the nonprofit sector

Our Vision:
The Philadelphia Foundation envisions a flourishing Delaware Valley made up of safe, thriving and diverse communities, strengthened by a dynamic and robust nonprofit sector that is critical to our quality of life, and that inspires civic participation through philanthropy.

Our Values
We achieve our mission based on certain values that are paramount to all that we do.  They are (in order of importance):

TRUST
HOPE
EFFICIENCY

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