FULL/VOTING MEMBERS are foundations, corporations or philanthropic entities whose primary function and activity is charitable grantmaking.
ASSOCIATE MEMBERS are philanthropic support entities, businesses, consultants, or individuals that serve foundations, corporations, or philanthropic entities.
Frequently Asked Questions
- General Eligibility Requirements
- Membership Year
- Membership Dues
- Corporate and Corporate-Giving Programs
- Types of Grantmaking Organizations
- Donor-Advised Funds
Q: What are the general requirements to join the Council as a voting member?
A: Foundations, corporations, and philanthropic entities whose primary function and activity is charitable grantmaking are eligible to become voting members of the Council. Private operating foundations are also included in this category. Voting members may be U.S. or non-U.S. organizations, and may include community foundations and other similar publicly-funded organizations, private foundations, and corporate giving programs.
The general requirements for voting membership include:
- The applicant must be organized as a tax exempt legal entity in good standing with the IRS and the state of incorporation, or in the case of corporate giving programs, the corporation is a legal entity in good standing with the IRS and state of incorporation.
- The applicant is governed by a board of directors or trustees.
- Charitable support is a primary activity. "Charitable support" is defined as grants, donations and investments in support of the charitable activities of one or more other organizations. Private operating foundations as defined in section 4942(j)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, meet the "charitable support" requirement if the requirements in section 4942(j)(3) are met.
- "Primary activity" means that charitable support expenditures consist of at least 33.33% of the member's annual expenditures.
Q: We are a grantmaker but do not meet the Council's criteria for voting membership. Can we join the Council as an associate member?
A: Unfortunately, no. If you are a grantmaker, you must meet the Council's voting membership criteria. Associate membership is reserved for philanthropic support entities, businesses, consultants, or individuals that serve foundations, corporations, or philanthropic entities.
Q: Are new grantmakers eligible for Council membership?
A: Yes. Organizations and programs that commit to start making grants that meet Council criteria are eligible for Council membership if the applicant meets the general requirements for a voting member listed above. Once admitted, these members are subject to review. Council staff will determine if the member remains eligible based on significant progress toward achieving grantmaking criteria.
Q: Are philanthropic support organizations eligible to join the Council?
A: Philanthropic support entities, businesses, consultants and individuals that are engaged in the professional business of serving foundations, corporations or other philanthropic entities are eligible to become non-voting associate members. Individuals who have previously served the Council as board members, volunteers, or in some other similar capacity and are not currently affiliated with any organization eligible for Council membership, but who wish to continue to support the mission of the Council may also be considered for associate membership. Associate members may be non-profit or for-profit entities. This is a nonvoting-member category.
Q: What is the criteria for associate membership?
A: Non-profit and for-profit service and support organizations, businesses and individuals that provide services and support to the philanthropic sector and/or have an active involvement in philanthropy and that do not qualify for voting membership may apply for associate membership in the Council.
Examples include but are not limited to:
- Financial and investment advisers, family offices, banks and trust companies that serve the philanthropic sector
- Law firms and attorneys that advise individuals and organizations regarding philanthropic activity
- Consulting firms and consultants who advise in the practice of philanthropy or who advise organizations that serve the field of philanthropy
- Vendors to the philanthropic field (e.g., software providers, publishers)
- Academic institutions and programs that support and serve the philanthropic sector
Additionally, individuals who have previously served the Council as board members, volunteers, or in some other capacity and are not currently affiliated with any organization eligible for Council membership, but who wish to continue to support the work of the Council may apply for associate membership.
Q: What is the Council's membership year?
A: Council membership is based on the calendar year from January 1 through December 31.
Q: What happens if we join the Council after January?
A: Any new member that joins the Council between January and March pays a full year of dues. For new members that join in April or thereafter, we prorate the membership dues.
Q: How are membership dues calculated?
A: The Council uses a three-year rolling average of assets and grants. For more information, please see the Membership Dues Calculation Worksheet and Schedule .
Q: The Council asks for asset information from the Form 990 and/or the Form 990 PF for the past three years in calculating membership dues. Do you require total asset or net asset information?
A: The Council requires net asset information from the Form 990 and/or the Form 990 PF.
Q: Is it possible to pay Council dues in the form of a grant?
A: You can pay for your Council membership—excluding $1,500 in administrative costs—through a grant, and the Council will provide documentation necessary to fulfill all grant related reporting requirements.
Q: Do in-kind donations count as charitable support?
A: Yes, in-kind and monetary grants and donations are recognized as a form of charitable support for purposes of membership eligibility. However, because the Council relies on information from IRS Form 990, this type of support should be reported on the 990 or 990-PF.
Q. How does the Council calculate membership dues for associate members?
Annual associate member dues are $1,500.
Q: Our Council dues are intended to cover both our corporate-giving program and our corporate foundation. Does it matter which entity pays these dues?
A: Because your membership dues include membership for both the corporate-giving program and the corporate foundation, the dues must be paid by the parent company.
Q: As a corporate-giving program, will our Council dues qualify as a charitable deduction for federal income-tax purposes?
A: The amount of your dues that qualifies as a charitable deduction is limited to the amount of your contribution that is greater than the value of the goods and services provided to you as a member. Upon receipt of your dues, the Council will provide you with an estimate of the value of goods and services provided to corporate members.
Q: Are non-U.S. foundations eligible to join the Council?
A: Yes. Non-U.S. foundations that are recognized by their governments and otherwise meet the membership criteria are eligible for membership in the Council.
Q: Are government-controlled foundations eligible to join the Council?
A: Foundations that are chartered by government action may join provided all other criteria are met.
Q: Are Subsidiaries, Affiliates, Supporting Organizations, Chapters, Divisions and Component Funds eligible to join the Council?
A: Applicants may list their subsidiaries, affiliates, supporting organizations, chapters and divisions on the membership application, and such subsidiaries, affiliates, supporting organizations, chapters and divisions may receive Council benefits under the umbrella of the parent organization/applicant's membership provided however that all listed subsidiaries, affiliates, supporting organizations, chapters and divisions are subject to the governance and control of the parent organization/applicant and the assets of all subsidiaries, affiliates, supporting organizations, chapters and divisions are included in the membership dues calculations.
Q: How does the Council determine if an organization is a private operating foundation?
A: We check the organization's IRS Form 990-PF .
Q: Are organizations that support their own programs eligible to join the Council?
A: Yes, as long as grants, donations and investments are made in support of the charitable activities of one or more other organizations.
Q: Are hospital foundations and university foundations eligible to join the Council?
A: Hospital foundations and university foundations are eligible to join if they meet the general requirements for Council membership. For example, even though a hospital foundation may provide charitable support for a single nonprofit hospital, it will generally meet the requirement that a member provide charitable support to one or more other organizations as a primary activity.
Q: Are giving circles and collective-giving groups eligible to join the Council?
A: Giving circles and similar groups must be legally organized to be eligible to join as a voting member of the Council. Unfortunately, most giving circles and collective-giving groups are not legal entities and therefore are not eligible to join. Council membership for legally organized giving circles and collective-giving groups would be for the giving circle or group as an entity, not for each individual.
If such groups conduct their grantmaking through a local community foundation or other philanthropic entity that already is a Council member, there is no need to join the Council separately because the group may enjoy benefits through the member organization.
Q: Are donor-advised funds or other funds affiliated by a member community foundation eligible to join the Council?
A: The Council does not offer a separate membership to donor-advised funds or other component funds. Donor-advised funds affiliated with a Community Foundation may benefit from the foundation's access to Council services as a member foundation.