Types of Funds

Gifts the Community Foundation can accept

What is a “named fund”?

All funds established at the Community Foundation are either endowed or unendowed.

An endowed fund is a permanent fund designed to issue grants per the donor’s original intent, in perpetuity. The minimum contribution to establish such a fund is $25,000, and once that minimum is met, the fund is eligible to issue grants after one full calendar year. Donors may take up to four years to reach the minimum. The amount available for grants is determined by the Foundation’s spending policy (currently 4% of the assets in the fund based on a rolling average of the previous 12 fiscal quarters).

The Foundation assesses an annual administrative contribution of the greater of $500 or 1.75% of market value on endowed funds and unendowed funds placed with the pooled investments. This contribution helps to defray costs of administering the funds and the grants that are made from them.

Unendowed funds are non-permanent funds. The minimum to establish an unendowed fund is $10,000 and donors may take up to two years to reach this level. Once the minimum is met, the fund is eligible for grantmaking after one full calendar quarter. (Grants may be made sooner, but a process fee of 10% of each grant will be charged.) The minimum fund balance required to maintain this type of fund is $2,500.

To view and download a table contrasting the differences between endowed and unendowed funds, click here.

All types of funds at the Community Foundation (Donor Advised, Field of Interest, Designated, Scholarship and Agency funds) may be established as either endowed or unendowed funds.

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The characteristics of endowed or unendowed funds described above are applicable to the types of funds listed below.

Donor Advised Funds

Donor Advised funds allow individuals, families, businesses or other entities to establish a fund where they may periodically direct that grants be issued to the nonprofits of their choice. (Please note that such directives are legally considered to be “recommendations” of the donors; by law, the Community Foundation’s Board of Directors is required to approve all grants issued by the Foundation.)

Donor Advised funds may be either endowed or unendowed and offer several distinct benefits.

  • Donors may make one or more sizable contributions to their fund, receiving a tax deduction for the year in which they made the gift, but defer making decisions regarding grantee organizations to a later time – even to a different year, if they wish.
  • They’re convenient: donors can direct that grants be issued to the nonprofits of their choice, but don’t have to worry about collecting documentation for tax purposes from the grantee organizations. Instead, donors receive their tax deduction, and the necessary paperwork for the IRS, at the time they make their contribution to their Donor Advised fund at the Community Foundation (itself a 501(c)(3) public charity).
  • Donor Advised funds are a meaningful, convenient and cost-effective way for families to instill philanthropic values in their children. Although only those named as Donor Advisors to the fund can legally recommend the grants to be made, many families involve their children in discussions relating to those recommendations. Donors who establish these funds may, if they choose, name one generation of Successor Advisors to continue the philanthropic tradition upon the death of the original donors.

Typically, Donor Advised funds bear the name of the donors (the John and Mary Smith Donor Advised Fund); other donors have chosen to memorialize loved ones; other options are also possible.

For more information about Donor Advised funds, contact Tina Barber at (607) 772-6773.

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Field of Interest Funds

Field of Interest funds, either endowed or unendowed, allow a donor or group of donors to establish a fund that addresses issues of specific interest to them. A Field of Interest fund can be established by a single donor or family which fully funds it on its own, sets the grantmaking parameters in place (i.e., chooses the areas of interest the fund should address in its grantmaking), and then either establishes an advisory committee or allows the Foundation’s Special Grants Committee to make grant decisions.

A signed fund agreement stating the fund’s purpose, whether it is endowed or unendowed, and indicating a common understanding of how it will operate should be in place prior to the gift being made.

Executive Director Tina Barber will be happy to speak with you about the type of fund that best suits the needs of your client. Call her at (607) 772-6773.

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Designated Funds

Designated funds are established by donors to achieve a designated purpose among a designated population. For example, such funds might be set up to make annual or periodic grants to a list of charities pre-determined by the original donors. They could also be established to issue grants to nonprofits in a specific geographic area, a county, school district or a municipality. Or they could be set up to do both; it all depends on what your client wishes to achieve through the fund. Unlike a Donor Advised fund, however, the parameters for grantmaking for the fund are established through the fund agreement at the time the fund is established. Distributions are often determined by an advisory committee or if the donor so chooses, their involvement can be limited and the Foundation then makes distributions based on the fund agreement and the wishes of the donor. For many donors this is exactly what they want: They like the idea that they can set in motion a meaningful, personal charitable legacy and be confident that it will operate without their having to devote precious time and attention to it, even after their deaths.

Designated funds may be set up by others besides individuals or families. They can be an excellent option for a private foundation that is considering dissolution, perhaps because its board members or trustees are aging and there is no one to take their place, but that wants to ensure that the foundation’s charitable legacy continues even without their future involvement.

For more information about Designated Funds, contact the Community Foundation at (607) 772-6773.

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Agency Funds

Agency funds are a type of Designated fund, but instead of making grants to a pre-determined list of multiple nonprofit organizations, their purpose is to support one particular nonprofit.

Agency funds, both endowed and unendowed, may be established by individual donors or families, by another organization, or by the nonprofit itself. They are often established to house a nonprofit organization’s endowment, thereby saving the organization the considerable expense of having to pay an investment firm to manage it for them.

As with all funds housed at the Community Foundation, per IRS regulations, the assets in an Agency fund become the property of the Community Foundation once they are contributed to the Fund. For this reason, it’s important that the donors (including the organization’s board, if the nonprofit itself is establishing the fund) give considerable thought to working out the terms of the fund agreement between themselves and the Foundation.

The terms under which grants will be issued to the agency from the fund (for example, whether grants will be for operating, capital or special projects; frequency of grant distribution; whether principal may be invaded and if so, under what circumstances; etc.) should all be spelled out in the fund agreement and mutually agreed upon at the time the fund is established.

Agency funds at community foundations have proven to be great options for many nonprofits and other donors around the country. For more information, please contact Tina Barber at (607) 772-6773.

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Scholarship Funds

Scholarship funds are established by donors, individuals, families, businesses, schools, other foundations, as a way to support students by assisting them with the costs of their education. Oftentimes donors wish to support a student who is interested in a field of study that is of special significance to the donor. Other donors see such funds as a meaningful way to honor or memorialize friends, teachers, co-workers or family members.

Depending on their charitable goals, it can be advantageous to your client to establish a Scholarship fund at the Community Foundation rather than directly with a particular educational institution.


Flexibility: A single fund, for example, could be set up so that it makes scholarship awards to students from different high schools who are planning to go on to college.

Permanence: Scholarship funds at the Community Foundation are designed to endure. And additional donors to such funds (often the original donors will “seed” a fund with a large gift, in expectation that others will help with additional gifts) may feel more confident in making gifts knowing that the Foundation is working to protect the fund’s longevity.

Recognition: Your client’s fund will be listed in the Foundation’s annual report and here on our website.

Things to Know About Scholarship Funds at the Community Foundation: 

  • An unendowed scholarship fund can be established with an initial gift of $2,500. The donor(s) has two years to bring the fund to $10,000. After one full quarter at $10,000, grant awards can be made from the fund.
  • An endowed scholarship fund can be established with an initial gift of $2,500. The donor(s) has four years to bring the fund to $25,000. After one full year at $25,000, grant awards can be made from the fund. Spending from an endowed fund is based on the current spending policy of the Community Foundation which may change from time to time.
  • Per IRS regulations, individual donors may not choose the students to receive scholarships from their fund. The donor may, however, establish the criteria for student selection. The Community Foundation relies on a selection committee at each school to choose the student(s) to receive the scholarship(s). Please note that, by law, all scholarship recipients must also be approved by the Community Foundation.
  • Scholarship awards can be paid only to the educational institution where the student is incurring costs. Awards will not be paid directly to the student or to his or her family members.

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The Community Fund

The Community Fund is the Community Foundation’s unrestricted general fund. It supports the Foundation’s mission to respond to pressing needs in our communities. The Community Fund consists of generous and thoughtful gifts of all sizes, from one dollar to hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The Community Fund is subject to the Foundation’s spending policy (4% of assets in the fund based on a rolling average of assets in the previous twelve fiscal quarters). In addition, a small percentage of the fund – 1.75% – is used to help support the Foundation’s operations.

Grants from The Community Fund are awarded in a competitive grants process in which nonprofits from our five-county region submit proposals for projects per grant criteria established annually by the Foundation’s Board of Directors. All proposals are reviewed by panels of volunteer reviewers drawn from the community; those proposals that are not eliminated at the panel level are reviewed by the Grants Committee of the Board. Lastly, the full Board of Directors reviews the proposals sent forward by the Grants Committee and makes the final decisions regarding grant funding.

In considering a gift to The Community Fund your client can be assured that his or her contribution will achieve positive local impact, benefiting the residents of our region. The gift will keep on giving, as well; as an endowed fund, The Community Fund will endure into the future. And of course, a gift to The Community Fund (as to all funds at the Foundation) is tax deductible to the fullest extent permitted by law.

A gift to the Community Fund can be as simple as putting a check in the mail to the Foundation. Non-cash gifts, however, may be more complicated and the Foundation recommends that you or your professional advisor call us at (607) 772-6773 prior to initiating the gift. See our Gift Acceptance Guidelines here.

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The Community Foundation accepts a wide variety of gifts.

  • Cash
  • Securities (stock donation instructions)
  • Bequests
  • Charitable Remainder Trusts (Beneficiary Designation)
  • Charitable Lead Trusts (Beneficiary Designation)
  • Retirement Plan (Beneficiary Designation)
  • Tangible Personal Property
  • Real Estate
  • Life Insurance Remainder Interests in Property
  • Oil, Gas, and Mineral Interests

Additional criteria apply to acceptance of each type of gift other than cash gifts. See our Gift Acceptance Guidelines for specifics regarding criteria for acceptance of non-cash gifts.

Please note that at the present time, the Foundation does not issue Charitable Gift Annuities.

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What is a “named fund”?

A named fund is simply a fund that has been established by a donor or donors and given a name of the donors’ choosing. Some donors use the naming opportunity to perpetuate their own charitable legacy to the community. Donor Advised Funds often bear the name of their donors. Others choose to name their fund in honor (or in memory) of a friend or loved one.

Other naming possibilities for funds are names that reflect the town or region served by the fund, or the field of interest that the fund will reflect (e.g., the Smith Family Fund for the Environment). The possibilities are virtually limitless.

Certain of your clients may wish to make a gift or establish a fund, but not have their name or the name of their fund listed in Foundation publications or on our website. This is not a problem; the Foundation will simply list them in all publications as “Anonymous” or “Anonymous Fund.” Your clients should be aware, however, that in submitting its yearly Form 990 to the IRS, the Foundation is required to individually identify all funds.

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To view our Toolkit, informational materials about the Community Foundation, its funds and services, that you can print out either for yourself or to share with your client, click here.