Philanthropy comes in many flavors: Different types of foundations
Part of our Philanthropy A-Z series
With more than 1.2 million public charities and foundations in the U.S., it can be confusing to sort out the differences between the types of foundations. The term “foundation” is applied somewhat liberally, but the general definition of a foundation is a nonprofit, non-governmental organization set up to donate money to causes chosen by its donors and board of directors. Structural differences in foundations may vary greatly, but most foundations have:
- their own board of directors
- at least a portion of their assets invested in an endowment, and
- grant money on at least a yearly basis.
The different types of foundations include:
- Public foundations, which according to the Council of Michigan Foundations, are nongovernmental public charities that operate grant programs benefiting unrelated organizations or individuals as one of its primary purposes. There is no legal or IRS definition of a public foundation. Increasingly, public foundations have been established to receive funds and make grants for populations with special needs, for specific subject areas, or around other non-geographic communities of interest.
- Private foundations, of which there are more than 120,000 in the U.S., are usually founded by one individual, often by bequest. They sometimes face public scrutiny due to the autonomy of their grantmaking priorities, which do not require public input.
- Community foundations are usually location based, and are set up to support the charitable activities of a town or other geographic area through mutual investment from community members. Community foundations also house donor-advised funds, much like a bank houses accounts. There are more than 1400 community foundations worldwide, with half of those operating in the U.S.
- Family foundations are a type of private foundation whose funds are derived from members of a single family. At least one family member must continue to serve as an officer or board member. Family foundation board members have 100 percent control over their grantmaking decisions. The largest operating family foundation today is the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which has an endowment of more than $36 billion. Many celebrities like to set up foundations to strategically support causes that matter to them, such as the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research.
- For the past 100 years or so, the philanthropic sector has been dominated by white males, and grants largely ignored the needs of minority populations. Ethnic foundations were created to change this convention and to put a new face on philanthropy. A great example of an ethnic foundation is The Potlach Fund, which focuses on expanding philanthropy within Tribal Nationals and Native communities in the Northwest, United States.
- Corporate foundations represent the charitable giving arm of a corporation; their funds derive from corporate profits (and employee donations), and their funding priorities often relate to the mission or product of the company. For example, the Newman’s Own Foundation supports nutrition programs for children, appropriate for a company that makes its money selling food products.
Of course, these are only a few types of foundations, and hybrid variations definitely exist - like the Center for Arab American Philanthropy (based on a community foundation model, but focused on supporting an ethnic group). Do you know of any foundations? What causes do they support? Leave a comment below!
- Andrew Carnegie and sustained strategic giving (Philanthropy in AAction)
- The D5 Coalition: Building equity, diversity and inclusion (Philanthropy in AAction)
Photo courtesy QuintanaRoo
Leaving a Legacy: Planned Giving
Part of a Philanthropy A-Z series
A planned gift is any charitable gift, immediate or deferred, that considers an individual’s personal tax, financial, and estate planning circumstances. Planned gifts can be as simple as an outright gift of cash, or as sophisticated as a charitable trust or foundation that is integrated into a multifaceted financial and estate plan.
Benefits of Planned Giving
- Planned gifts have significant tax advantages
- Planned gifts can help minimize the estate tax.
- Planned gifts ensure the long-term support of organizations that you care about, even beyond your lifetime.
Planned giving should involve the services of a professional advisor. A professional advisor can discuss your personal philanthropic goals with you, explain legal terminology, and detail the pros and cons of different giving vehicles — including how various options will affect your tax obligations.
For more on on planned giving and leaving a legacy for the future, please consult CAAP’s Guide to Arab American Giving.
- 10 Facts about planned giving (Non-profit Chas)
Photo courtesy JulianRod
A flourishing donor-advised fund
Part of a Philanthropy A-Z series
Often thought of as charitable giving bank accounts, donor-advised funds allow philanthropists to channel resources through their local community foundation, financial institution, or identity-based giving program like CAAP to causes that matter most to them. A donor-advised fund requires care and cultivation to flourish - just like any garden plant requires water and sunlight. The donor establishes a fund with a set amount of money (or stocks, or property), receiving a tax-deduction at that time. Then, at any point in the future, the donor recommends certain amounts be directed to 501(c)3 organizations of the donor’s choice. The money directed to a nonprofit from a donor-advised fund is called a grant.
But before that happens, community foundation donor officers perform due diligence on the recommended nonprofit organizations to make sure that they are in compliance with government regulations. With our plant analogy, you might think of this as weeding and pruning the garden.
While many gardeners grow flowers and plants purely for pleasure, reaping a garden’s vegetable harvest is also a great reason to cultivate plant life. In the context of a donor-advised fund, the garden harvest comes in the form of tax benefits - as well as the knowledge that, like a green-thumb sows and grows, you are helping to nurture programs and projects that make a difference for our planet and its people.
One of our current fund holders, Mona Sahouri, likes the ease and peace of mind that comes with housing her and her husband Saed’s fund at the Center for Arab American Philanthropy (CAAP):
Our CAAP fund organizes our giving and helps us to strategically plan our giving trends for the future years. It gives us an idea of just how much we give and to which causes we tend to give more - not to mention the tax benefits as we often used to make donations and forgot to report them.
Additionally, by giving through their fund at CAAP, Mona and Saed are leveraging their charitable giving with others to tell a powerful story of Arab American philanthropy in this country.
The specifics for setting up donor-advised funds vary depending on the institution that houses the fund. We encourage you to learn more about the many benefits of setting up a website. Keeping your donor-advised garden well stocked will allow your charitable impact - and legacy - to grow, sometimes forever.at CAAP by visiting our
Photo courtesy Arwyn J.M.
Part of a Philanthropy A-Z series
Giving within ethnic communities is not a new phenomenon, and formal identity-based philanthropy began in 1895 when German Jews in Boston formed a fundraising federation to help new Jewish immigrants adjust to life in the U.S. What began as a local initiative in Massachusetts has expanded across the nation, and includes formal giving vehicles for many ethnic and minority communities, including Hispanics, Asian Americans, African Americans, Native Americans, and most recently, Arab Americans. The Center for Arab American Philanthropy operates on a community foundation model to promote strategic identity-based giving in the Arab American community, and is the only institution of its kind.
The mission of identity-based philanthropy is for minority communities, many of which are marginalized and under-served in the traditional philanthropy model, to band together to form giving structures that address critical issues in their communities. These communities are defined by ethnic or racial origin, gender, and sexual orientation. According to the W.K. Kellogg foundation,
identity-based funds are the primary vehicle through which this philanthropy gets expressed. Identity-based funds work by pooling together solicited donations and contributions from community donors and then redistributing those funds (through grants) to individuals or organizations doing work in that community to promote social change.
- CAAP featured in a new report from W.K. Kellogg on identity-based philanthropy (Philanthropy in AAction)
- The D5 Coalition: Building diversity, equity and inclusion (Philanthropy in AAction)
Image courtesy fotologic
Giving Circles: A Small Amount, For A Larger Impact
Part of a Philanthropy A-Z series
There are instances where a downturned economy can offer new and innovative solutions to issues that we face. Even though many of us are tightening our own wallets, social problems and worthy causes do not decline. Giving circles are a growing form of philanthropy that offer solutions to social causes, while not financially overburdening those that want to support those causes.
Members of giving circles collectively pool their funds, learn about community needs, and together determine where and how their gifts are granted. A giving circle’s strength is in the collective power of its resources and ideas, not in one person solely.
Inspired by Oseola McCarty’s generous gift to Southern Mississippi University, a group of women in New Orleans formed the Zawadi giving circle. Remarkably, McCarty was not a wealthy woman, and gave away a large portion of her life savings to a cause that she deemed worthy. Zawadi continues to replicate the spirit of McCarty’s generosity, by requiring that members contribute a minimum of $100 a year to their collective pool, and to causes of their choosing, such as aiding victims of Hurricane Katrina.
At CAAP, the Bustan Al-Funun giving circle was recently formed by a group of women interested in supporting causes that present Arab world or Arab American arts in the United States. For more information on the benefits of giving circles, or to inquire about starting one through CAAP, please visit our website.
Photo Credit: Time.com
Center for Arab American Philanthropy
2651 Saulino Ct.
Dearborn, MI 48120