Special Funds: Tailored to Meet Special Goals

Special FundsIt’s a little-known fact, but most of the money that the Community Foundation distributes flows not through the Community Fund’s competitive grantmaking process, but through our special funds. Those funds provide $400,000 to $600,000 a year to a diverse range of recipients within our five-county region and beyond.

The Community Foundation administers several kinds of special funds, designed to meet different philanthropic interests. One is the donor advised fund, established by people who want to recommend the organizations that should receive their support each year. In 2012, we managed 25 such funds.

Donors establish field of interest funds when they want to benefit specific causes or individual institutions. Our largest fund of this kind is the Women’s Fund. Other examples include the Artists Fund, the Broome Library Foundation Fund and the Stephen J. and Betty E. Purtell Fund, which benefits children and youth.

Designated funds are created to meet the needs of specific institutions. Some of these--called designated agency funds--are defined by the organizations they support. Two examples are the Binghamton Police K-9 Fund and the Phelps Mansion Preservation Fund.

The Foundation establishes another kind of designated fund to carry on the work of a smaller foundation when its trustees decide that this is the best course. Each of those funds maintains a list of organizations that should receive its gifts.

In consultation with the trustees, the Foundation may also use a designated fund to help other organizations meet important needs that the creators of the fund could not have anticipated. For example, after the tragic shootings at the American Civic Association in 2009, a grant from the Harriet Ford Dickenson Fund helped the ACA install a security system in its building.

Other examples of funds that developed from foundations include the Lillian Briggs Fund and the Selrahc Ah-Wa-Ga Legacy Fund.

An individual or organization may establish a fund to help students continue their educations. Donors can design these scholarship funds in any way they like--for example, to benefit students at one or more particular high schools, or to help students who are pursuing specific majors.

Whether you’re an individual donor, or part of a group of people who want to share their resources, a special fund might be just the vehicle you need to make an important difference in your community. The Community Foundation’s staff will be happy to help you explore the possibilities.

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