Why a Community Foundation?

A community foundation is created by citizens to serve a defined geographic area and build an endowment that supports the community’s needs. Donor contributions are pooled and invested, and a small percentage is distributed in grants each year to ensure that “community capital” will always be available.

The community foundation movement started with the creation of the Cleveland Community Foundation in 1914. Today, there are more than 750 independent, geography-based community foundations in every state in the United States and another 1,000 in other parts of the world.

Through strategic grantmaking and leadership, community foundations play a key role in identifying and solving community problems with help from other community partners. In essence, they leverage the wealth of yesterday, today, and tomorrow to make life better for those who live and work in their service area.

Rochester Area Community Foundation can help you express your deepest values, from leaving a legacy to cultivating a family tradition of philanthropy or honoring a loved one.

Support the Community

You care deeply about this community – whether you choose to define it by geography, ethnicity, age, interest, or any number of other factors – and want to continue supporting it beyond your lifetime. Creating a fund at the Community Foundation can benefit your favorite charities, causes, or communities now and in the future. You may determine the criteria for support and know that your intentions will be honored.

Invest in Your Interests

You are passionate about helping to address a specific community issue and want to make a meaningful gift. You can work with our grantmaking experts to understand the community’s critical needs and effective programs and then direct gift dollars to make the greatest impact.

Engage Family Members in Philanthropy

Looking for a way to encourage family members to be engaged in philanthropy? Establish a Donor Advised Fund and name family members as current or successor advisors, giving your family gatherings or reunions new meaning. The Community Foundation has several examples of families effectively engaging siblings and children in giving and is eager to share those ideas with you. 

Leave a Legacy

Your memory can live on forever by leaving a legacy at the Community Foundation. Supporting the community through your will or beneficiary designations is an easy way to have your name, interests, or values live on. You can create or add to a fund by bequest or through a planned gift and know that its purpose will continue in perpetuity.

Honor or Memorialize a Loved One

If you’re interested in establishing a memorial fund or making a gift to remember or honor a loved one, you’ve come to the right place. With our help you can:

  • Establish a permanent fund named for your loved one to provide grants to charitable organizations or scholarships to students;
  • Give a one-time grant or scholarship in honor or memory of a special person; or
  • Add a contribution to an existing permanent endowment fund at the Community Foundation and have your loved ones’ names forever remembered that way.

The first step is to talk with us. We know this may be a difficult time for you, but we encourage you to help us understand your hopes and dreams so that we can recommend a direction that will reflect them.

Whether you wish to generate income from your gift or avoid the headaches of running a private foundation, Rochester Area Community Foundation can help you achieve peace of mind with your giving.

Preserve an Estate

Estate planning often finds significant taxes going to the IRS, but you may prefer to direct dollars for local benefit. The Community Foundation can work with you to reduce your taxable estate through a charitable bequest or other planned gift. Your gift will create a legacy of caring in the community that stays true to your intent forever.

Retire in Comfort

Perhaps you have always been charitable, but are concerned about running out of money during your lifetime. Consider establishing a life income gift (such as a Charitable Gift Annuity) at the Community Foundation that pays you income for life. Upon your death, the gift can be distributed by the Community Foundation in accordance with your charitable interests.

As an Alternative to a Private Foundation

If you are thinking about establishing a private foundation but are looking for a simpler, more cost-efficient alternative, the Community Foundation can help you analyze the pros and cons of creating a Donor Advised Fund, a supporting organization, or a private foundation. See Community Foundation Alternatives to a Private Foundation for more information.

Year-End Tax Planning

Perhaps you’ve just earned a large bonus and want to give a portion back to the community, but you don’t have time to decide on the most deserving charities. Consider establishing a Donor Advised Fund at the Community Foundation for an immediate tax deduction. This type of fund gives you the ability to be involved in recommending uses for the gift for years to come and when it’s convenient for you.

Dispose of Highly Appreciated, Closely Held Stock

Perhaps you have appreciated stock and want to use a portion of the gains for charitable giving, but the charities you want to support are too small to accept direct stock gifts.

Consider establishing a Charitable Checking AccountSM at the Community Foundation with a gift of appreciated stock. You receive an immediate tax deduction on the full market value while avoiding the capital gains tax that would otherwise arise from sale of the stock. You can even be involved in recommending uses for the gift, including the organizations and programs you care about most.

Perhaps your personal net worth is primarily tied up in a closely held company, but it’s important for you to give back to the community. Consider establishing a Donor Advised Fund or planned gift. Both will make you eligible for a tax deduction measured by the fair market value of appreciated stock (less any planned gift value).

Please note: Due to privacy regulations, many brokerage firms will pass a stock gift along to the Foundation without disclosing the donor’s name. If you plan to make a stock gift, call 585.271.4100 or send an email with the stock name and number of shares so that your gift can be processed correctly.

Sale of a Business

If you own highly appreciated stock in a company that is about to be acquired, the Community Foundation can work with you to suggest several ways to structure a charitable gift (including the use of planned giving techniques) to help you reduce capital gains tax and to maximize the impact to the community, program, or nonprofit organization of your choice.

Substantial Retirement Assets

If you have substantial assets in retirement accounts and want to leave your estate to your family and the community, the Community Foundation can help you evaluate the most beneficial asset distribution to minimize taxes, giving more to your heirs and preserving your charitable intent.

Whether you are a new philanthropist or an experienced one, the Community Foundation can help you focus your giving. We can help you create a philanthropic plan that is personalized to reflect your core values and concerns. Our knowledge of community needs and our assistance through the entire planning process will develop your awareness of the issues you care about most and guide you through each important step of charitable giving.

Focus Your Vision

The Community Foundation can help you develop a personal or family focus to your charitable intentions. We can help you identify areas where your passions are aligned with community shortcomings. This is where your philanthropy has the best chance to bring about meaningful change.

Make Informed Decisions

The Community Foundation provides numerous opportunities for you to learn more about your areas of concern. We help our philanthropists connect with experts in the field, review relevant reports and information, and visit organizations that interest them. Through donor education events, community convenings, special receptions, and other events, you’ll be introduced to local and national experts as well as others in the community who share your views on the value of philanthropy.

Create Your Plan

Once you’ve set your objectives, we can work with you to craft your philanthropic plan and ensure the best match between your deeply-held values and philanthropic goals.

Determine Your Plan’s Effectiveness

Evaluation measures are an important part of our philanthropic planning process. You’ll want to make sure the resources you commit have their desired impact: Are the problems being addressed most relevant now? Is the infrastructure in place for future progress? The Community Foundation will assist you in monitoring your grants and reviewing your philanthropic portfolio.

Benefit From Administrative Support

The administrative tasks that come along with charitable giving should not interfere with your desire to effect change in the community. The Community Foundation will assist you with these tasks, easing your concerns while making sure you get the greatest returns on your contribution. When you establish a fund, we’ll issue quarterly fund statements and help with record-keeping and documentation of contributions for tax purposes. You can also access your fund activity 24/7 with our online fund management tool, DonorCentralSM.