Public Foundations

Public foundations are grantmaking public charities that gain their funds from a variety of sources, which may include foundations, individuals, corporations, or public entities. Public foundations may engage in fundraising, and may seek broad public financial support. They may or may not have endowments. There is no legal definition of a public foundation, but most dedicate a significant portion of their annual budgets to grantmaking. Most community foundations are also grantmaking public charities.

Since public foundations may be defined in different ways, and there is no official IRS or legal definition of public foundations, it is difficult to arrive at statistics that are fully representative of the field.

Below is everything on our site for public foundations. You can use the filtering options on the right to narrow these results.

Under the Pension Protection Act of 2006 (PPA), any organization that is not required to file Form 990 because it is a “small public charity” will be required to submit an annual 990-N report to the IRS. The IRS posted FAQ's with additional information about the filing requirement. A “small public charity” is one that has annual gross receipts normally less than $50,000 (or $25,000 for tax years ending after December 31, 2007 and before December 31, 2010).

Under the Pension Protection Act of 2006 (PPA), the rules for public disclosure of the Form 990-T by public charities and private foundations became identical to those for Form 990.

Which forms are affected?

Any Form 990-T filed after August 17, 2006.

The Pension Protection Act of 2006 (PPA) imposes requirements for determining the charitable deduction permitted for gifts of fractional interests in tangible personal property. 

What contributions are affected?

These requirements apply to contributions made after August 17, 2006.

Contributions of clothing and household items

Section 1216 of the Pension Protection Act of 2006 (PPA) imposes requirements for contributions of clothing and household items to charity. The provision is effective for contributions made after the date of enactment (August 17, 2006).

If our organization holds donor advised funds, what information must we provide on Form 990?
A sponsoring organization, such as a community foundation, must disclose on Schedule D, Part I of its 990 the following information:

The Pension Protection Act (PPA) was signed into law by President Bush on August 17, 2006. The PPA was designed to improve pension plan funding requirements of employers, as well as 401(k), IRA and other retirement plans. The PPA also included numerous provisions that affect charitable giving.

Most states have registration and/or reporting laws that apply to nonprofit organizations soliciting contributions within the state. Information about registration is available through individual states or the Multi-State Filer Project.

Lawyers rarely tell foundation managers, "Relax, don’t worry so much!" But in the case of "tipping," that’s been our advice for more than 10 years. What is the so-called "tipping problem" and why are so many foundations (still) so worried about it?  

Good relationships between grantmakers and grantees promote more effective philanthropy. But there's nothing that can mess up a good partnership faster than an overzealous lawyer. In seeking to protect their foundation clients, lawyers can sometimes impose excessive requirements on grantees, forcing them to spend unnecessary time and money. While grantmakers should always pay attention to their lawyers' advice, here are some legal recommendations you might want to question.

Requiring grantees to "re-certify" tax-exempt status

After September 11, 2001, many grantmakers and other charitable organizations that were not previously familiar with the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), learned of its existence. As one of the key U.S. government agencies seeking to shut down terrorism funding around the world, OFAC has focused attention on charities as one mechanism for providing financial support to terrorists. As a result, grantmakers and others have dedicated more time and effort to OFAC compliance.

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