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A community foundation is a collection of grant-making funds established by charity-minded individuals, families and groups who wish to set aside money to provide long-term support to a defined community.
Instead of individually paying to set up their own private foundations and hiring staff to screen grant requests, administer donations, monitor investment results, and handle all the other “back office” work, donors share expenses by setting up funds within the community foundation. That means most of their charitable dollars can go to their chosen causes.
A donor creates a fund by making a gift to the community foundation. Most gifts are in the form of cash, appreciated stock, charitable remainder trusts or bequests—all offering tax advantages. The donor names the fund and defines its purpose. Assets in the fund are pooled with other funds the foundation administers and invested. Every year, some of the return on the donor’s fund is used to award grants in accordance with the fund’s purpose. The rest of the money earned is retained to keep the fund growing.
The Foundation’s ultimate purpose is to sustain and spread Catholic values by increasing the amount and effectiveness of philanthropy flowing to causes that support the mission of the church in Southeastern Wisconsin.
The Foundation serves two main groups:
The Foundation helps you by:
Only funds established with the express wish that they be expended at the archbishop’s or archdiocese’s discretion may be used in this manner. Both canon and civil law require all funds placed with the Foundation to be administered and distributed in accordance with the wishes of the donor. The Foundation board has final grant-making approval.
The Foundation helps increase charitable giving, particularly to Catholic non-profits, by making giving easy and effective and pointing out the benefits of charitable funds, charitable remainder trusts and other giving mechanisms to new philanthropists.
Most grants support causes in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, though donors can direct some of their annual contributions to recipients outside this area. And most recipients are affiliated with the Catholic church, although, again, donors can direct some of their contributions to other charitable causes. The Foundation approves grants to non-Catholic organizations whose work supports the church’s mission. The most important thing to remember is that grants always meet the donor’s specifications. With a wide range of donor interests, we award grants to a wide range of organizations.
That depends on the type of fund you choose.
Organizations seeking grants submit letters of intent and then, if invited, full grant request proposals with supporting documentation (non-profit status, budgets, board list, etc.). Foundation staff review grant requests and make site visits as appropriate. A committee established by the Foundation’s board of directors then reviews the requests and makes approval recommendations to the board. See getting started for grant-seekers.
The Foundation invests the funds prudently, seeking a return that exceeds inflation by at least five percent. The Foundation’s Investment Committee works with professional advisors to develop investment goals and guidelines that define risk parameters and socially responsible investment selection criteria. Investment manager performance is reviewed regularly and compared to benchmarks selected by the board’s Investment Committee. All funds received from donors, parishes and agencies are pooled for investment purposes, but each donor/parish/agency fund is separately accounted for and reported on. See more at how we invest.
Professional investment managers make buy/sell decisions in accordance with Foundation guidelines. We employ different managers for each asset class. The Foundation board’s Investment Committee follows a disciplined evaluation process and enlists the advice of an independent investment consultant to select managers who have successful track records in their specific areas or asset classes. Each manager’s performance is monitored against a predetermined benchmark. Securities owned by the Foundation are held in custody by an independent third-party bank or trust company. See more at how we invest.
Our investment strategy has a conservative bias, with an emphasis on limiting risk through diversification of assets and the use of several investment managers. The Foundation takes very seriously its stewardship responsibilities to invest prudently yet achieve a reasonable rate of return to achieve donors’ philanthropic goals. See more at how we invest.
The Foundation is recognized in both civil and canon law. Under civil law, it has corporate status as a charitable foundation. Canonically, it is what is known as a public juridic person, the canon law parallel to a civil corporation.
Call Mary Ellen Markowski to ask about starting a fund: