What are some other giving options?
If you decide a family foundation won’t fulfill your philanthropic goals, consider other vehicles for your charitable giving.
Write a check
The most pervasive and successful form of philanthropy in the United States today is writing a check to a qualified charity. Last year, according to Giving USA 2006, individual contributions and bequests were estimated to be 83 percent of all charitable giving, equaling $216 billion (which includes disaster relief contributions).
If you decide you don’t have the time or resources to devote to running a family foundation, you can still be an effective philanthropist through individual giving.
Both GuideStar and the BBB Wise Giving Alliance offer comprehensive information for donors on more than 1.5 million nonprofit organizations.
Community foundation donor-advised fund
If you have the money but don’t have the time or inclination to start your own foundation, a donor-advised fund at your local community foundation may be the best option. A donor-advised fund allows you to be involved in grantmaking with considerable input but avoids the need to start a new foundation with all the administrative and legal requirements.
Community foundations are public charities with two major purposes: to seek funds from private sources to build a pool of permanent capital for local philanthropic purposes, and to allocate and distribute such funds for public needs. The donor can rely on the experienced and knowledgeable staff of the local community foundation and their experience in local grantmaking.
Reasons for creating a donor-advised fund within a community foundation include:
- Where an endowed gift is intended, the size of the gift is not large enough to sustain a separate, independent foundation without significantly reducing its grantmaking abilities, or the community foundation’s areas of grantmaking may encompass the different interests of family members.
- Rather than making a one-time gift to a specific charity, the donor prefers to make a lasting, permanent gift that will benefit a specific community to which he or she is particularly attached or that will benefit a particular type of charity or field of interest within that community.
- Speed is also an advantage of the donor-advised fund. Because the legal structure is already in place, an existing community foundation will have appropriate forms available so that the donor may literally establish the fund and take advantage of tax deductions in one visit.