What is a Community Foundation?
The Eastern West Virginia Community Foundation is one of approximately 700 community foundations across the country. These nonprofit organizations are set up by local individuals dedicated to improving the quality of life in a specific geographic region. A community foundation is a tax-exempt public charity that allows donors (individuals, other charities, businesses, civic clubs, schools, etc.) to establish permanently endowed funds within one large foundation, and offers an inexpensive, value-added way to be a philanthropist. Each separate fund’s distributions are available to respond to emerging problems and specific opportunities in the community.
What does a Community Foundation do?
Simply stated, Community Foundations build endowment funds from donor contributions, and award grants from the gains. Grants can be made to support charitable causes, schools, nonprofit organizations, government agencies, and churches that provide services in our community. Distributions may support the arts and humanities, education and youth programs, conservation and preservation, animal rights and care for the elderly, health and human services, and early child care, plus much more. Additionally, several funds support scholarships for students heading off to college.
What “community” do you serve?
The Eastern West Virginia Community Foundation serves Jefferson, Berkeley, and Morgan Counties, with affiliates in Hampshire and Hardy Counties. Some local donors, however, have regional and national interests that they fund through the Community Foundation.
Where do you get the money you grant?
Donations to the community foundation come from people of relatively modest means to those with substantial financial resources. Many donors are interested in planned giving and name the Community Foundation in their charitable remainder trusts, charitable lead trusts, or bequests in their will. While cash contributions are most common, gifts of appreciated stock, charitable rollovers from an IRA, real estate, and life insurance are often made because of favorable tax implications. Virtually all of the contributions to the Eastern West Virginia Community Foundation are placed in permanently endowed funds and invested for long-term growth. The gains on these investment are used to award the grants. Most of our endowed funds award grants equalling approximately 5% of the market value of the fund annually.
Why should I be a donor?
Community Foundation donors are people with a strong sense of community and personal commitment to our region. Some donors want to support specific causes in their communities. Other donors appreciate the flexibility and ease of using the Community Foundation for a variety of grantmaking opportunities. Because the legal apparatus is already in place, funds can be established in a very short time with the greatest possible tax advantages. In summary, we offer our donors Permanence & Stability, Flexibility, Relevance, Commemoration or Anonymity, Tax Advantages, Experienced Investment and Grant Management, Grantmaking Expertise, and Convenience.
How is the Community Foundation different from the United Way?
Both are important resources to the community and each complements the other. Some have described the differences by suggesting the United Way is more like the community’s check book—raising and distributing money annually, while a community foundation is more like a savings account—making grants from long-term investments which grow and make distributions in perpetuity.
How do I set up a fund?
The first step is to decide what kind of fund you want to set up. (See Types of Funds under Give) Also, think about the kinds of issues that interest you and charities you already support. Call us with your ideas and vision. There is so much we’d like you to know! And, remember, gifts may also be made to existing funds.
There is so much more we’d like you to know. For more information and ideas on ways to integrate your financial planning with charitable giving, ask your financial advisor or contact the Eastern West Virginia Community Foundation, Hampshire County Community Foundation, or Hardy County Community Foundation.