Frequently Asked Questions


How is the Community Foundation governed?

By a volunteer board of directors representing the diversity of Switzerland County. Board members can serve up to two three-year terms.

Where does funding to operate the Foundation come from?

From several sources. The Foundation annually charges a 1.5% administrative contribution to endowments, an Administrative Endowment makes grants for operating costs, and the Foundation's current and former directors also contribute.

Are contributions to the Community Foundation tax-deductible?

Absolutely. The IRS has classified the Community Foundation of Switzerland County as a public charity, so gifts qualify for the most generous tax (income, capital gains, and estate) benefits available.

Can I be specific about how my contribution is used?

Yes. Some donors know exactly which fund they would like their gift placed in and others need some guidance.  If you would like to learn more about your options, the Foundation's staff would be happy to assist you.

May contributions be made anonymously?

Yes.  If you chose to do so, please let one of the Foundation's staff know this is your intent.

Who are the donors to the Community Foundation of Switzerland County?

Donors are people just like you. One need not be wealthy to make a difference. Working with the Community Foundation, you can have a lasting impact on the quality of life in Switzerland County right now and for years to come.

May I leave a bequest to the Community Foundation of Switzerland County in my will?

Most certainly. Community members are urged to consider a bequest for the benefit of the Switzerland County community through the Community Foundation.

What is an 'endowment'?

It is a permanent fund set up by an individual or organization through a written agreement between the donor and the Foundation. Gifts to the fund are invested. Investment income is used to make grants and scholarships. The original value of the fund is not spent. All of the Foundation's more than 90 endowment funds are pooled for investment purposes but each individual fund is accounted for separately.

What kinds of grants can be awarded from an endowment?

The Foundation is a very flexible tool for people to use and as long as a project, program, or organization is charitable, anything is possible. Founding donors establish how grants should be distributed from their endowment.

What does it cost to set up an endowment?

There are no start-up fees. An annual administration contribution of 1.5% from the fund is used to help with administrative expenses, including reporting annually to founding donors about their funds' financial activity.  In addition, the fund is assessed a 1% investment fee.

What is the minimum amount needed to start an endowment?

An endowment must reach $5,000 (or $10,000 for scholarships) before it can start awarding grants. However, an Acorn Fund can be established with $500 as long as a donor commits to contributing $500 or more annually until the fund does reach $5,000. The fund will not pay out any grants until it reaches $5,000 and that amount has been invested for one full fiscal year.

How are my gifts invested?

The Foundation's Finance & Investment Committee, with the assistance of an investment consultant firm, seeks to prudently maximize returns by investing in a balanced portfolio of stocks and bonds and diversifying over a number of asset categories. The Foundation preserves the 'purchasing power' of the funds over time by reinvesting a portion of the investment returns back into the fund. That way the endowments keep pace with inflation.

How are the endowment grants determined?

The Foundation has adopted, along with hundreds of endowment managers in the country, a Total Return Policy. The policy has two goals: to maintain and increase the real value of the endowment and to smooth out the short-term roller coaster ride that inevitably results from investing in the marketplace.

Depending on the current climate, the Foundation generally awards up to 4% of a fund's average market value over the preceding 20 quarters. (New funds must be invested a full calendar year before they can make grants.)

What's the difference between a private foundation and a community foundation?

A community foundation qualifies as a public charity. This allows donors the maximum tax deduction for gifts and bequests. A private foundation is usually established by an individual or family. The community foundation is a pool of funds given by any number of different donors for any number of charitable purposes.

How do community foundations differ from other nonprofit organizations?

Most nonprofit organizations have a specific mission. By contrast, a community foundation's mission is very broad: to improve the quality of life in a given area. This breadth of mission reflects our ability to make grants in any field of interest with a charitable benefit to local communities.

Why establish a fund with the Community Foundation instead of giving directly to a favorite charity?

A gift to the Community Foundation to support a favorite charity or cause is a permanent gift that will produce income forever. A donor who supports a particular charity with an annual gift can continue to support the charity forever by making a permanent gift to the community foundation for that charity during his/her lifetime or in his/her will.