Everything You Ever Wanted To Know . . . About Community Foundations
What is a Community Foundation?
A community foundation is a non-profit, tax exempt philanthropic organization which is supported by the public with the purpose of distributing funds for the benefit of the residents and community in each individual area. Community foundations really do strive to enhance the quality of life for the whole of the community, impacting on social, environmental, cultural, educational, health, human services.
How Does It Work?
Each community foundation has a board of directors, which is a group of community and business leaders who oversee the management of the funds, as well as the policies of each individual community foundation.
What’s The Difference Between a Community Foundation and Any Other Non Profit Organization?
Community foundations have a very broad mission, whereas other individual non profit organizations usually have a very specific mission to concentrate on. The mission of a community foundation is to improve the quality of life for their community . . . in many different aspects of life. Community foundations very often eventually become the hub of all charitable giving within the community, connecting the people who need support with the people who are in a position to, and want to give support.
What is an Endowment?
An endowment to a community foundation is a permanent fund which is invested. This income can then used for various charitable purposes, although the principle of the endowment is never spent, it is simply invested to keep on growing and continue to do good work for many years to come.
Who donates to Community Foundations?
Donations to community foundations come from many corners of the community . . . businesses, individuals, families, corporations and charities . . . some people are fortunate enough to be able to make large donations, others of more modest means simply donate what they can. It’s simply people in the community who have a real desire to help others within their community.
How Can I Set Up a Community Foundation Fund?
A community foundation fund is pretty easy to set up. You can either specify which charitable foundation you particularly want your donation to help, or you can set up an unrestricted fund which can help all areas of the community. If you have a donor advised fund you can even be involved with the decision making process and grant making decisions.
Can I Have a Named Fund?
Yep, some conributors set up a named fund within their community foundation. . . this can be in your own name, the name of a family member, friend or business. These named community foundation funds are often set up in memory of a loved one.
What If I Want to Donate Anonymously?
That’s okay too, the privacy of the donor is always respected if they so wish it.
Are There Any Tax Advantages in Donating to a Community Foundation?
Yes, community foundations generally try to offer the best possible tax advantages available under the law.
How Does a Community Foundation Choose Members of the Board?
There are around 700 community foundations in the US, and each will probably have it’s own little ideas, but a general outline would be: new board members will be chosen by the current directors, they may serve for a period of around three or four years. Each board member will be selected because they have the experience, knowledge, as well the right amount of dedication to really help the local community. A wide range of expertise is generally welcomed, with board members being typically drawn from areas and backgounds ranging from finance to education, business to medicine, government to accounting.
How Can I Get A Grant From a Community Foundation?
Again, this may differ between different community foundations, but you will need to contact your local community foundation, either by telephone or email. Typically they will need lots of information from you; the grant will need to benefit resident or residents from the local community, projects which have the potential to get support from other areas of the community and will benefit a broad segment of the inhabitants. Contact your local community foundation with a clear cut idea of how the grant will benefit your local community trying to include specific yet realistic goals.