Overview of the Law Governing Community Foundations

A Chapter in Mastering Foundation Law:
The Council on Foundations Compendium of Legal Resources

Overview of the Law Governing Community Foundations CoverThis chapter is intended to examine and explain those common legal characteristics shared by community foundations and to provide a comprehensive legal overview of the rules and regulations that govern community foundations. Federal tax law will be the focus although certain sections will discuss state-specific law. You will also find some comparisons between community foundations and other organizations such as private foundations.

This chapter is divided into six different parts:

What is a Community Foundation?

Part One explains the concept of a “community foundation” by examining various definitions, common characteristics, and formation requirements. This part also reviews the now century-old history of community foundations.

Federal Tax Status of a Community Foundation

Part Two discusses the Federal tax laws and regulations that are so important to the governance of community foundations..

Charitable Contributions and Tax Benefits for Donors

Part Three reviews the tax benefits donors receive for contributing to community foundations and discusses compliance and reporting requirements related to such gifts.

Grantmaking to Other Charitable (and Non-Charitable) Organizations

Part Four examines the grantmaking activities of community foundations and compares grantmaking rules applicable to different types of grantees and different types of funds.

Grants to Individuals

Part Five discusses how community foundations can provide financial or other assistance to individuals and stay in compliance with the law.

Self Regulation and National Standards for Community Foundations

Part Six concludes with a discussion of the National Standards for U.S. Community Foundations™ program and how this respected, self-regulation program came about.