Cleveland Trust Company accountant and lawyer, Frederick Harris Goff, is given the credit for creating the first community foundation in 1914. Many people disposed of their wealth through use of philanthropic devices. The principal device in those days was private foundations. Goff had the idea that people of modest means could also engage in large-scale philanthropy if they pooled their contributions. He thought that the distributions from such a pool could be made not by a bank but by a committee representing the community. The bank as the sole trustee and with a five-member distribution committee was given responsibility for distributing proceeds from the trust funds.
The Community Foundation of North Central Washington was created in September of 1986 from the sale of Chelan County Medical Services Corporation (a nonprofit health care service contractor) assets. Originally named the Greater Wenatchee Community Foundation, approximately $2.1 million was transferred into the newly created community foundation in November of 1986. The name of the foundation was changed to the Community Foundation of North Central Washington in 2001 to better reflect the regional nature of the foundation’s program.
Today there are over 700 community foundations in the United States with assets of over $49.5 billion. In 2011, they received an estimated $4.5 billion in donations from individuals, corporations, agencies, and other foundations and gave an estimated $4.2 billion to nonprofits across the country. In Washington State, community foundations are based in Wenatchee, Moses Lake, Walla Walla, Spokane, Bellingham, Seattle, Tacoma, Vancouver. There are several just beginning or are affiliates to the above serving in different communities.