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.
How are the Community Foundation funds invested and managed?
Currently, our endowed funds are invested with BB&T, City National Bank, CNB Bank, Bank of Charles Town, United Wealth, and First United Bank & Trust. Our Investment Committee has established guidelines for the investment advisors and we have a carefully crafted Investment Policy Statement that is reviewed annually.
What services do I receive as a donor and what are the fees?
The Community Foundation annually files all necessary IRS documents and forms. We provide annual reports to our fund holders, undergo a rigorous independent audit, post grant opportunities on our web site, and work with local media outlets to publicize our funds and grantmaking. When awarding grants and scholarships, the Community Foundation provides due diligence to assure that all recipients are eligible to receive funding. When appropriate, the Community Foundation can help donors solicit grant proposals targeting specific charitable causes or nonprofit organizations of interest. Donors are kept apprised of special community needs on a regular basis. We can also help donors publicize their funds or, conversely, act as a community liaison to provide anonymity for donors. The donor is charged an annual fee of 1 percent (2 percent on new scholarship funds) on the market value of each endowed fund. Investment fees are slightly more than 1/3 of a percent annually.
How much must I contribute to have a fund named?
Named funds require at least a $5,000 endowment gift ($10,000 for scholarship funds), however, a fund can be started with as little as $500 ($1,000 for scholarship funds), with five years to build to $5,000.
Can I give anonymously?
Yes. The Community Foundation is set up to protect your identity for gifts made within the community.
What’s the first step?
Contact us today to take the first step in establishing your family’s legacy. You can reach us by phone at 304-264-0353, by email at info@EWVCF.org or by stopping by our office at 229 E. Martin Street, Suite 4 in Martinsburg.
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.