Below is a list of frequently asked questions. If you don’t see a question that addresses what you want to know, e-mail us.
1. Who decides on grants from restricted funds?
You decide by designating specific institutions or you can establish an advised fund where you or others you’ve named, recommend grants for charitable purposes. You can also choose to restrict the fund’s use to your own community or field of interest, like arts or education. Then the Board makes grants subject to your restrictions. You can also set up an unrestricted fund, making it more flexible. Each year the program staff will consider vital and innovative projects that serve current needs.
2. What assets can be contributed to a fund?
Outright gifts of cash, real estate, securities and/or personal property· Bequests by will of cash or property· Memorial or honorarium assets in tribute to a friend or loved one· Life insurance or retirement plan assets naming CFGC as beneficiary· Private foundation transfers in which the private foundation transfers its assets to CFGC while retaining its name and purpose.
3. How do I start a fund?
Send us a letter stating your wishes. We draft an agreement which you approve, establishing your fund. Once you and the President sign the agreement, your fund is ready to receive assets. You can also go to your attorney or other advisor. The Foundation staff will work with them to expedite your wishes.
4. How long does it take to establish a fund?
It can be done quickly. Generally it depends on your wishes. Two to four weeks is normal.
5. How does the Foundation decide whom to give to and when?
Charitable organizations apply during the grant cycles. Grants are made in accordance with the Foundation’s grant making guidelines. The Board’s Program Committee recommends projects that address the needs of the community to the Board of Directors and grants are made from the Foundation’s primary unrestricted fund which is The Fund for Chattanooga.
6. Is there a minimum amount I must give to establish a fund?
Yes. The minimum is $5,000. There is, however, no minimum for gifts to funds already established or to pass-through funds.
7. How are the Foundation’s assets managed?
CFGC hires a professional investment consultant to advise the Investment Committee of the Board. The consultants make a quarterly report to the Investment Committee that is guided by formal policy, recognized performance benchmarks and our mission statement.
8. Are my gifts tax deductible?
We qualify for the maximum tax deduction provided by the IRS. We are classified as “tax exempt” under section 501(c) (3) of the internal revenue code.
9. Can other people add to the fund I establish?
You and other people can add to the fund at will. Many people make contributions in honor of anniversaries, birthdays and other events. There is no minimum.
10. Is there a fee?
There is no fee for establishing a fund and no out-of-pocket costs to the donor once it has been set up. There is a minimal administrative fee.
11. Can I trust CFGC to protect the fund, ensuring it will endure over time?
We are organized to provide permanent investment and grant making protection for all funds. An independent audit is conducted every year by a reputable accounting firm. We also have very stringent internal controls and guidelines and a diverse Board of Directors that oversees all aspects of the Foundation’s work.
12. What is the Community Foundation?
It is one of over 500 such public foundations in the country where donors provide dollars for grant making from a permanent endowment. These foundations make it possible for each and every citizen or resident to affect the greater good of a city or region. The Foundation’s work focuses on Hamilton County. It is a collection of large and small funds dedicated to a variety of organizations and programs. The result is a stronger, greater place to live and work.
13. Is CFGC a charity itself?
The Foundation is a tax-exempt 501-(c) (3) charitable organization. Our primary role is to encourage and administer endowed capital to benefit charitable programs and projects.
14. Why establish a fund with the Foundation instead of giving to my favorite charity?
Donors enjoy the freedom of being able to make annual gifts to more than one charity. They also enjoy being involved in grant making, as well as valuing the continued growth of endowment and the impact those funds can have on the community.
15. Does endowment mean large sums of money?
Anyone can begin as a philanthropist by making a donation of $25 or more to any of the Foundation’s existing endowments. You can also initiate a separate named endowment which can be built over a period of time.
16. What is an endowment?
Endowment means that you are making an irrevocable charitable gift that is permanently invested for growth and income. The principal is preserved and grows through capital appreciation. The net income is distributed periodically to charities specified by the donor.
17. What is the difference between the Foundation and the United Way?
It is often described this way. The United Way is the “annual checking account” for specific organizations. The Foundation is the “permanent savings account” for all charitable organizations.
18. Can the Community Foundation of Greater Chattanooga accept a private foundation?
Every year throughout the country private foundations are transferred to community foundations. This saves on management costs, excise taxes and management burdens.
19. What do I receive in return?
We turn your tax dollars into charitable dollars. And those charitable dollars go directly to the community, helping individuals and worthwhile organizations. There are tax advantages for giving through the community foundation. You can explore these through your financial advisor. Each donor or fund representative receives a quarterly financial statement, plus professional investment of permanent funds in pooled funds and grant making. Foundation staff acts quickly on your grant requests and can provide philanthropic advice and grant making research when needed.