A gift to the Cambridge Community Foundation sustains the vitality of the city.

Since our founding in 1916, the Cambridge Community Foundation has focused strategic and philanthropic resources on the Cambridge community.  Drawing on a century of experience with community organizations, local universities and academic institutions, the city government, and philanthropic partners, the Foundation works to achieve an inclusive and vibrant Cambridge for all.

We are the only foundation exclusively focused on Cambridge. Three goals for Cambridge drive our work: 

  1. shared prosperity
  2. social equity
  3. cultural richness

The Foundation’s deep connections across the city, independent voice, and thoughtfulness have made it a beloved Cambridge institution.  A gift to the Cambridge Community Foundation helps to ensure opportunity and access for the people who call our city home.


Drive change through partnership

For over 100 years, one goal at the Foundation has been to serve as a trusted and independent advisor to donors. We value every donor, and honor the power of partnership – with donors, with the city of Cambridge, and with our valued nonprofit partners. Thousands of donors have contributed to the Cambridge Community Foundation since its inception, and their gifts have combined to generate significant positive impact across the city. We invite you to join us in supporting opportunity, equity, and progress in Cambridge.

The power of collective giving

We host the Cambridge community’s endowment. Charitable funds held at the Foundation provide a stable and secure stream of funding for a wide range of community needs and donor interests. Through two grant cycles each year, we learn about and fund numerous programs benefiting every segment of Cambridge community life. Our donors value the staff’s knowledge, connections, and the opportunity to make positive change in partnership with the Foundation.

Gifts to the Cambridge Community Foundation establishing long-term funds are especially valuable, since the Foundation is able to sustain support for changing essential needs and respond to critical issues. The Cambridge Community Foundation aims to use its own funds and partner with donors to ensure meaningful grants for the organizations that need funding.

Strengthen Cambridge through collaboration

Through convenings and collaborations, we strengthen the network of services and nonprofits in Cambridge. As a civic leader, we also sponsor collaboration and information sharing across sectors essential to an effective nonprofit/city/private sector partnership.



Donor advised funds

Donor advised funds function as a giving and knowledge-building vehicle for donors. Donor advised funds require a minimum gift of $10,000 to establish. Every year the donor and the Cambridge Community Foundation discuss the allocation of grants made from the fund, and donors may direct funds to support a range of philanthropic interests.

Donor advised funds are attractive in that they offer substantial flexibility at a lower cost than a family foundation. Donors may make recommendations for support of any 501 (c)(3) organization. Donors may elect to have funds governed by the Foundation’s spending rule, or spend over time based on the donor’s philanthropic objectives. Giving from a donor advised fund may also be anonymous, if a donor wishes.

Designated funds

Designated funds meet a broad range of donor interest, and all are governed by the Foundation’s total return spending policy.

  • Unrestricted Funds are directed to meet strategic grant-making objectives, responding to community needs, and in initiative areas. Funds may be established with an initial commitment of $10,000 or more, and donors receive annual fund statement along with information on the fund’s use. The Cambridge Community Foundation awards grants from these funds with advice from our Distribution Committee.
  • Field of Interest Funds are designated for a broad funding category, for example early childhood programs, STEAM education, the arts, education and others. These funds may be added to Cambridge Community Foundation funds, which generate, larger commitments to a specific area of focus.  Field of interest funds require an initial commitment of $10,000 to establish, and donors receive an annual fund statement along with information on the supported programs.
  • Donors who wish to designate a specific organization as a beneficiary of its grants establish Designated Funds. Agencies that wish to establish sustaining funds may also use this structure. These funds require a minimum commitment of $25,000 to establish.
  • Scholarship Funds support post-high school student learning and achievement. You may create a scholarship fund with a donation of $25,000 or more. The Cambridge Community Foundation works with a school partner to award the fund, and donors receive notification of the scholarship recipient.


The Cambridge Community Foundation has two trustees: Cambridge Trust Company and U.S. Trust/Bank of America. Permanent funds given to the Foundation are invested with one of these co-trustees. The Finance Committee of the Board of Directors monitors our investment performance and reviews our total return spending policy.


The total return spending policy for permanent funds at the Foundation sets the percentage of Foundation funds’ total market value which is available for charitable grantmaking, administrative expenses, and investment fees each year. The Foundation’s spending rate is calculated on a weighted three-year average of the fiscal year-end market value of the permanent funds. Our current spending rate for grantmaking is 3.5% and an administrative fee of 1.5% supports the Foundation’s expenses for administration, and services to nonprofits and donors. The Foundation’s trustee banks charge a modest fee that is accounted for in the presentation of investment performance.

This policy follows best practice among community foundations and allows the Cambridge Community Foundation to avoid large swings in the amount of grant distributions that would otherwise result between lean and flush years of investment performance. From time to time, the Board of Directors may change the total return formula to assure that the Foundation meets its goals both of addressing current community needs and increasing grant-making capacity over time.

Donors to donor advised funds may opt to spend at a different rate, based on their philanthropic goals. Please visit our donor advised fund page for more information.