Donors  ::  Fund Basics  ::  Being a Donor Advisor

When can I Award my first grants?

You may begin making grants from your endowment fund on July 1 the year after your fund was established, if on Dec. 31 your fund balance was $10,000 or more. If you have a spend-down fund you may begin making grant recommendations immediately.

How do I recommend a grant?
Once you have spending policy available for grantmaking, recommending a grant to a charitable organization is simple. Feel free to recommend grants electronically by emailing your recommendations to your community engagement officer or via a new area of our web site called Donor Services Online.  You may also submit written grant recommendations via U.S. mail, or fax; verbal requests do not provide the Foundation with the needed documentation.

A suggested minimum grant amount is $100 to a qualifying charitable organization. Grants may not exceed the total annual dollar amount available for spending from your fund unless prior approval has been received from the Foundation’s Board of Directors.

While we encourage you to consider grants from your fund each year, unused amounts can be carried over into the next fiscal year.

How often may I recommend grants?

You may make grant recommendations at any time. Please allow up to three weeks for approval and processing of grant checks. Grant recommendations of more than $25,000 require approval by the Foundation’s Board of Directors before a check can be released.

What kind of organizations may I recommend for grants?

One of the benefits of having a Donor Advised fund is the assurance that your grant will always be given to qualified charities. Generally, organizations eligible to receive grants from the Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region are those determined by the IRS to be public charities. This encompasses most charitable, scientific, social service, educational and religious organizations described in Section 501(c)(3) of the U.S. tax code, as well as government agencies. 

Are there grants that cannot be made from my fund?

In August 2006, President Bush signed the Pension Protection Act of 2006 into law. The enactment of this law  has many provisions that affect charitable giving, particularly scholarships and donor advised funds.

The new law prohibits the payment of grants, loans or compensation from a donor advised fund to the donor, the advisor, members of their families or businesses they control. Because expense reimbursements are considered a “similar payment” under the new law, donor advised funds cannot be used to reimburse donors’ expenses for charitable activities carried out directly by the donor, including fundraising expenses. Grants to Type III Supporting Organizations from donor advised funds will not be allowed.

The IRS prohibits grants to individuals from donor advised funds. This ruling includes scholarship awards for a specific individual. Grants made from a donor advised fund to an educational institution for the purpose of supporting a general scholarship fund are permissible, but may not include a designation that the scholarship be directed to a specific individual.

Because gifts received by the Foundation receive the maximum tax advantages allowed by federal tax law, no part of a grant may be used to provide a tangible benefit for the donor(s), donor advisor(s) or related party from the recipient organization. For example, grants that provide a benefit such as membership dues, tickets to events, green fees for a golf outing or a fundraising dinner are not allowed.

May I pay pledges from my fund?

In accordance with IRS regulations, grants from donor advised funds may not be used to satisfy a
pre-existing, legally binding personal pledge. You may however, recommend a multi-payment grant commitment to a charity from your fund. Please contact us first, as the obligation must originate from your fund within the Foundation.

How will you keep me informed of my fund’s activity?

Each February you will receive a Statement of Activities detailing contributions, investment performance, administrative expenses and your fund balance for the prior calendar year. In the spring of each year, you will also receive a Statement of Grantmaking, which will detail the amount currently available for making grants and the amount that will become available on the next July 1, the beginning of the Foundation’s fiscal year.

You may also access information about your charitable fund and charitable giving on your schedule through Donor Services Online, a password-protected area of our web site that allows you to see your fund balance, available spending policy and year-to-date or cumulative totals for contributions, grant history and pending grants.

If you have any questions regarding your fund, recommending grants or you simply need clarification, please call your Community Engagement officer at 920-830-1290.