What is a community foundation?
A community foundation is a collection of many separate endowed funds established by individuals, families, and charitable organizations—a community of donors. These funds are pooled and invested and the income from these investments is distributed back into the community of nonprofit organizations. The benefit of pooling funds is that those larger amounts allow access to better performing investment managers. Learn more about what a community foundation is.
When and why was the Three Rivers Community Foundation established?
It was established in 1999 by a group of community-minded individuals who saw a need to provide a flexible method for donors to band with other donors to serve both the immediate and long-range charitable needs of the community, primarily Benton and Franklin Counties. The Foundation is the community’s charitable savings account. A gift to 3RCF will provide benefits throughout the area from generation to generation.
How is the Foundation organized?
The Three Rivers Community Foundation is a 501(c)3 nonprofit corporation governed by a Board of Directors comprised of business, civic, and community leaders representing Benton and Franklin Counties. There are two staff members.
Current Board of Directors
Kathleen (Kat) Lawrence
What is the benefit of establishing a fund at the Foundation?
Establishing a fund at the Foundation allows donors to achieve their charitable goals without the overhead, costs, tax disincentives, federal compliance difficulties and administrative burdens that accompany private foundations. We offer grantmaking support and due diligence of grant-seeking organizations and professional asset management of funds. Donors choose whether to be highly or peripherally involved in grantmaking.
Why give to the Three Rivers Community Foundation instead of giving directly to a favorite charity?
A donor can fund an endowment with a number of different assets, not just cash. The majority of nonprofits do not have the staff, expertise, or time to handle gifts of non-cash assets, nor do they have the ability to set up planned gifts such as charitable gift annuities or remainder trusts. The Foundation is able to facilitate between the donor and the nonprofit in order that the charity is provided for financially, the donor is allowed the maximum tax advantage, and both have the peace of mind that an individual’s thoughtfulness will provide a benefit to this community forever.
What does the Foundation charge for these services?
The Three Rivers Community Foundation provides a variety of administrative services to donors and nonprofits including investment management, gift accounting and receipting, filing of tax and legal documents, and due diligence regarding nonprofit status. The average annual fee for an endowed fund is 1.5%. This means that $98.50 of every $100.00 goes directly to the nonprofit.
What types of funds are available?
There are several types of funds to choose from:
- If the donor makes a contribution to our unrestricted endowment fund, the contribution, together with previous and subsequent such contributions will generate income which the Foundation can apply to grantmaking as determined by the Board of Directors.
- Alternatively, the donor can specify that the contribution be applied to a narrower field-of-interest fund, for example, a fund for education, for children's health, for performing arts, for a specific geographic area, etc. Such funds produce annual income for grants to fulfill the donor’s specific purposes for these funds exclusively.
- A donor can contribute to a designated fund, which is a fund designated for a single nonprofit organization. The income from designated funds can be distributed only to the organization(s) named by the donor.
- The donor can specify that the contribution go to a donor advised fund. In this case, the donor, members of the donor's family, or others designated by the donor may periodically recommend to the Board that distributions be made to nonprofit organizations. The Foundation is not legally bound to follow these recommendations. However, we will do so in most cases when the intended grantee is a legitimate nonprofit organization, meets all relevant laws, and is doing work consistent with the mission of the Foundation. Donor Advised funds are especially suited to donors with a variety of charitable interests. They are a flexible mechanism to carry out charitable giving often in lieu of having to create private foundations, which are less efficient and more costly.
- Scholarship funds can be set up at the Foundation. Individuals, corporations, or even school districts can provide funds and criteria to award educational scholarships. The Foundation handles all of the administration of the scholarship, including follow-up and verification of enrollment.
- A nonprofit can set up an agency endowment for its benefit. Individual donors can contribute to a nonprofit endowment. This makes the nonprofit as a whole more attractive to donors knowing that an endowment is in place to provide long-range financing for the organization.
The Foundation can also provide memorial funds as well as pass through funds, which allow for the entire principal to be spent.
Does the Foundation provide grants?
The Foundation has an unrestricted endowment, the Three Rivers Community Fund, which allows for annual grants. Grant guidelines and requirements are available online at our website www.3rcf.org. Grants are awarded annually in the fourth quarter of each year. Applications are due in mid-September each year. The Foundation supports a wide range of nonprofits from health and human services, education, and the arts.
With all of the nonprofits in our area, does the Three Rivers Community Foundation compete with those nonprofits for funds?
The Foundation does not compete with the nonprofits in the area. We are here to improve the quality of life in our community, and we do that by promoting philanthropy. Our mission is to educate donors to the fact that they can achieve their philanthropic goals with assets other than cash; that with careful planning they can avoid excessive estate taxes; and that legacies can be created with relative ease. We are also here to serve nonprofits by offering the Foundation’s planned giving expertise to their donors on their behalf. Our goal is to provide more funds to area nonprofits in ways they are perhaps not equipped to facilitate. And we are blessed with an unrestricted endowment that allows the Foundation to award annual grants that address the immediate needs of our community.