A community foundation grows charitable giving to make its area -- its neighborhoods, its cities, its region -- more vibrant, more prosperous, and more resilient. Community foundations serve donors by making giving easy, meaningful, and often permanent. They connect the interests of philanthropists -- during their lifetime and after they pass -- with nonprofits that provide services that address the issues of priority to that donor.
Since the creation of the first community foundation in 1914 in Cleveland, Ohio, community foundations have evolved into dynamic, multi-faceted grantmaking organizations. Currently, there are more than 800 community foundations in the United States. Community Foundations who use best practices in their work are accredited by the National Standards Board and are governed by philanthropic-minded volunteer leaders who are dedicated to safeguarding donors’ philanthropic intentions and to serving the community.
Enjoy customized philanthropy
Community foundations are made up of component “funds” which, although separately managed according to a donor’s wishes, are pooled together and invested in order to create a maximum return. Each fund is administered according to its “type.”
Although are variations, most community foundations offer some version of the following fund types:
- Donor-Advised and Family Foundation Funds -- Donors can create a donor-advised fund and recommend the community foundation make distributions to nonprofits in such amount and at such times that a donor sees fit They operate like a charitable “checking account.” At the Community Foundation of Tampa Bay, we also offer Family Foundation which are larger donor-advised funds that allow donors to promote their foundation in the same way as a private foundation, but enjoys the maximum tax benefits and cost savings of a fund at a community foundation.
- Endowment Funds -- Endowments are permanent funds with the goal of preserving and growing principle, thus creating a reliable stream of annual income for charity. These funds can be designated for a specific nonprofit or for a specified field of interest or geographical area, such as “to support animals in Hillsborough County.”
- Scholarships -- Donors can create scholarship funds that support specific schools or establish scholarship criteria for students to participate in a competitive scholarship process. Some donors create scholarships in memory of their loved ones and encourage family and friends to donate to the fund.
The breadth of fund types offers donors the flexibility to practice their philanthropy in a way that is customized and convenient. Community foundation staff are accessible and skilled in making charitable giving a joyful experience.
Obtain maximum tax benefits
Community foundations are nonprofits, classified as “public charities.” The “public charity” status separates community foundations from private foundations: Donors obtain maximum tax benefits for donations to funds administered by community foundations. Additionally, community foundations can accept donations of complex assets, such as closely-held business interests, land, and even crops. Thus, donors can make complex gifts to component funds at a community foundation while supporting their favorite nonprofits.
Leave a lasting legacy
The core principle of community foundations is stewardship: the careful and responsible management of donors’ funds and donors’ charitable intent. Community foundations ensure the perpetuity of funds through “variance power,” which enables community foundations to redirect the fund if the charitable purpose becomes obsolete or impossible to achieve. Variance power is exercised carefully and very sparingly and will align with a donors’ original intent as closely as possible.
Consult with community experts
Community foundations manage robust grantmaking programs to determine the recipients for annual distributions of unrestricted and field of interest endowments. Because of that work, the staff is uniquely qualified to educate donors on pressing needs in the community. Additionally, community foundation staff stay connected with local nonprofits and have a good sense of where grants will have the greatest impact.
About the Community Foundation of Tampa Bay
Founded in 1990, the Community Foundation of Tampa Bay connects donors, nonprofits, community and business leaders, professional advisors, volunteers, and residents to make the maximum positive impact in the Tampa Bay region. For 30 years, the Community Foundation of Tampa Bay has been dedicated to making giving easy and meaningful for donors as a way to strengthen nonprofit organizations and build a better, more vibrant community. Learn more.