Chamber Foundations

Foundations with 501(c)(3) non-profit status are granted federal tax exemption by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) based on its recognition of charitable programs. Organizations described in section 501(c)(3), other than testing for public safety organizations, are eligible to receive tax-deductible contributions in accordance with Code section 170. (Source: IRS). Foundations can also receive funding from other foundations offering grants or other funding opportunities and may provide additional revenue for chambers.

Many chambers have started foundations with 501(c)(3) tax status to further support their communities. Some of the most active chamber foundations have a few things in common:
  • Focus - their mission is tight, not all-encompassing. They have a specific purpose.
  • Tasks - they have responsibility specific projects that are either not being done elsewhere, or can be "chunked out" from current chamber operations.
  • Team - they have their own high-powered staff.
  • Funds - their project/mission is in demand and is ripe with potential for funding above the chamber "rate card."

ACCE Resources

Chamber Foundation Samples

Sample Bylaws and Articles of Incorporation

Examples of Select Chamber Foundations

Arlington Chamber Foundation (Texas)
Serves as the strategic "think tank" and financial development arm of the chamber. It is focused on the research, analysis, and strategic planning necessary to support the chamber's overall mission as well as seeking state and federal grant funding, Foundation Cultivation, Endowment Development/Planned Giving, and other financial activities necessary to secure resources and build capacity in support of the Chamber's economic strategies.

Partnership for a Sustainable Community - Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber of Commerce (N.C.)
The Partnership applies business leadership to solve community problems and create opportunities, focusing on helping non-profits and businesses with a charitable focus achieve their goals. Green Plus is a former project of the Foundation that has sprouted and now has a small staff.

Denver Metro Chamber Leadership Foundation
The foundation, which focuses exclusively on regional leadership development programs, has eight different initiatives centered around building community leadership for various groups, including undergrads, young professionals, and executives new to Denver.

Florida Chamber Foundation
The Foundation works in partnership with state business leaders to secure Florida's future. The Foundation's Six Pillars address the critical factors determining Florida's future and provides a platform for local, regional and state-wide collaboration towards the first-ever long-term strategic plan for the state. The Six Pillars framework encompasses the following areas: Talent Supply & Education; Innovation & Economic Development; Infrastructure & Growth Leadership; Business Climate & Competitiveness; Civic & Governance Systems; and Quality of Life & Quality Places.

Main Street Lehigh Valley - Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce (Pa.)
The Chamber Foundation's mission is to improve every Main Street in the Lehigh Valley through targeted investments in revitalization programs, facade improvements, streetscape designs, urban planning, event promotion, sidewalk beautification, and other enhancements to the physical appearance of our downtowns and urban centers. See the Foundation's overview and application as well as its brochure.

Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce Foundation (Fla.)
The Foundation is an affiliate of the Greater Tampa Chamber and is dedicated to serving members and strengthening the community by building success. The foundation provides ongoing leadership development and educational programs that give members opportunities for continued learning and growth.

Houston Northwest Chamber of Commerce Foundation (Texas)
The Foundation is a 501(c)3 non-profit corporation established in 2006 to support projects that improve the Houston northwest community, as part of the Houston Northwest Chamber. Projects include the Thomas Hetherington Airport Festival scholarships and the Green Medians project and the Hurricane Harvey Business Relief Grant Fund for recovery work in Northwest Harris County. Read more about the Business Relief Grant Fund here. See the Foundationís Contribution Acknowledgement Letter and the Chamberís Member Application with an option to donate to the Foundation.

Chamber Foundations with an Educational Focus

INC.spire Education Foundation - Greater Reston Chamber of Commerce (Va.)
The Foundation works closely with the Greater Reston Chamber to offer three program segments: an Incubator Program, a Business Education Series, and a Student Education Program for high school students.

Jefferson Chamber Foundation (La.)
Launched in 2007, the Foundation has been the backbone of the workforce development grants that were a catalyst in the rebuilding after Hurricane Katrina. The Foundation is also the namesake and founder of the Jefferson Chamber Foundation Academy, a high school that gives students from the community a second chance at graduation.

Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce Foundation
The Foundation supports cradle-to-career education and workforce development programming within the Chamber and its affiliates, such as UNITE-LA, to coordinate and broker systemic education reform. The Foundation is particularly focused on the issues facing large urban school districts such as the Los Angeles Unified School District.

Rochester Chamber of Commerce Foundation (Minn.)
Supports the chamber's efforts in the areas of education, workforce development, and leadership development. The Foundation supports its mission by being informed and connected to key issues that affect access to a globally competitive workforce and by developing strategic partnerships and initiatives with schools, businesses, community leaders and other supporters.

View a list of other chamber foundations focused on education and youth issues.

Articles & Presentations

Videos, Webinars & ACCE U Resources

Additional Resources

  • Benchmarking Foundation Governance 2015 Report - Published by the Center for Effective Philanthropy (CEP). In surveying foundation CEOs as part of a larger benchmarking study, CEP worked closely with BoardSource to design and include questions related to governance to collect and bring to light new data on foundation boards.
  • Management Fee Information - LinkedIn discussion thread

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Last Updated: 11/29/2017