How are community foundations different from private foundations?

A community foundation is a publicly supported, nonprofit, tax-exempt organization that maintains a diverse grantmaking program in a specific community or region. In its general charitable purpose, a community foundation is much like a private foundation; its funds, however, are derived from many unrelated donors rather than a single source, as is usually the case with private foundations. Further, community foundations are classified under the tax code as public charities, subjecting them to different tax policies and regulations than private foundations.

What does The Community Foundation do?

The Community foundation for the National Capital Region is a hub for philanthropy in the greater Washington region and we have impact in two important ways. We help individuals, businesses, and organizations positively impact the issues they are passionate about. We provide giving advice, services, and vehicles to help our community of givers achieve their philanthropic goals and connect with the communities in which they live and work. We also use the assets entrusted to us to make grants, strengthen effective organizations, and advocate for policies that foster financial security for all families in the region.

How can I donate to The Community Foundation?

You have many options when giving to The Community Foundation; you can make a gift now, during your lifetime, or a planned gift. You can start your own fund, contribute to an existing fund, or support our Community Leadership Fund for Greater Washington. If you’d like to speak to someone about the diverse options available, please contact Shannon Scott, Chief Financial Officer, at (202) 263-4777 or sscott@cfncr.org.

What is the Community Leadership Fund?

The Community Foundation focuses its Community Leadership work in three key areas—Safety Net, Education and Workforce Development—with the overarching goal of achieving economic security for all residents of the greater Washington region. More than 175,000 families in our region are “economically insecure” and not earning enough stable income to afford basic needs like housing, utilities, food, and clothing. Since 2008, The Community Foundation has: helped hundreds of low-income workers launch careers and go to college; increased opportunities for low-income youth to thrive; provided shelter, housing and food for hundreds of thousands of adults and children in need; prevented hundreds of people from losing their homes; and helped preserve over $80 million in public funding for critical safety net services. Join us in achieving economic security for all the region’s residents by supporting the Fund for Greater Washington.

Who does The Community Foundation serve?

We operate in communities throughout Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Northern Virginia. We strengthen the Washington metropolitan region by encouraging and supporting effective giving and by providing leadership on critical issues in our community. The Community Foundation fulfillsits mission by raising local philanthropic capital to address the specific needs of the areas it serves. Community issues shift from neighborhood to neighborhood; having local expertise in our service areas allows us to address them most efficiently and effectively. However we process grant payments to any recognized publicly supported charity nationally.

Does The Community Foundation accept non-cash gifts?

The Community Foundation is authorized to accept gifts of all kinds. You are encouraged to use the full “menu” of giving vehicles to realize your philanthropic goals. You may establish and make additions to your Fund using both current and deferred gifts.

What types of organizations can I recommend for a grant?

The grantee must be a 501(c)(3) nonprofit public charity as defined by the Internal Revenue Service. If you have a question about a particular organization, please contact our Grants Manager, Kathy Matthews at (202) 263-4773 or kmatthews@cfncr.org for more information.

Can I recommend a grant to an individual?

Generally, no. According to IRS regulations, The Community Foundation can only make distributions to qualifying nonprofit organizations. Our staff conducts due diligence on all organizations for documentation of nonprofit status. Scholarship grants are possible; however, the grant recipient will be responsible for any tax liability. Please contact our Grants Manager, Kathy Matthews at (202) 263-4773 or kmatthews@cfncr.org for more information.

Can I recommend grants to organizations outside of the DC area?

Yes. Donors may recommend grants to any qualified 501(c)(3) public charity or operating foundation in the country.

Can I recommend a multi-year grant from my fund?

Yes. At the time of your recommendation, please indicate that you wish the gift to be made in increments and specify the timeframe. We will administer the distribution and payment schedule. Please remember you may not pay a pre-existing legally binding pledge from your fund.

Who can recommend grants from my fund?

Anyone on record as an advisor for your fund can recommend grants from your fund. The Foundation will consider written requests to add additional advisors to your fund.

What happens to my fund after my lifetime?

We allow you to name a successor advisor(s) to succeed you in making grant recommendations for your fund. If there isn’t a named successor advisor, advised funds of less than $10,000 will be added to the Community Leadership Fund for Greater Washington to support charitable activity throughout the region. Advised funds of $10,000 or more will maintain their fund name as an endowed legacy of the fund creator. In which case, philanthropic staff of The Community Foundation will recommend grants to organizations in the same programmatic area(s) as were previously granted from the fund. 

Can I recommend grants anonymously?

Yes. You can request that the following be anonymous: fund name; donor name(s); both fund name and donor name. In addition, you may request that the fund name not appear in The Community Foundation’s Annual Report.

Can I change the name of my fund?

Yes. A written request to change the name of the fund is required.

Can the Foundation help me identify some specific programs to make a grant to?

Yes. The Foundation’s Community Investment team is highly knowledgeable about a wide variety of programs and will be glad to work with you to identify grant recipients.

May I serve on the board of an organization and recommend a grant from my fund to this organization?

Yes, as long as you receive no personal benefit from the grant.

I did not apply for a grant, but I received a check from The Community Foundation. What does that mean?

The majority of grants made by The Community Foundation come from our donor-advised funds. These grants are made at the discretion and request of a donor. The fund donor directs us to make a grant of a specific amount to a specific nonprofit organization. The Community Foundation issues the check, sometimes with a letter stating the donor’s name and outlining any requirements and/or contingencies. If you would like to express your gratitude to the donor for the gift, please consult the letter accompanying the check. Please keep in mind that out of respect our donors’ privacy The Community Foundation does not release any additional information about our donors beyond that letter.

Can I apply for a grant from The Community Foundation?

The Community Foundation has several competitive donor-advised fund grants and strategic initiative grants that welcome proposals and letters of intent from local nonprofit organizations. Please refer to our grantmaking information here for more details about available opportunities.

How do I apply for a grant from The Community Foundation?

Eligible nonprofit organizations may apply for The Community Foundation‘s competitive donor-advised fund grants and grants from our Strategic Initiatives. Please refer to our grantmaking information here for more details about available opportunities. When applying, carefully follow the specified guidelines and procedures. Out-of-cycle, late, improperly formatted or unsolicited proposals/letters of intent will not be accepted.

Does my organization have to be located in Washington DC to receive a competitive grant?

The Community Foundation‘s competitive grants are made to nonprofits located in and/or directly serving residents of the following geographic regions:

  • DC: District of Columbia
  • MD: Montgomery County + Prince George’s County
  • VA: Arlington County, City of Alexandria, County of Fairfax, Fairfax City, City of Falls Church, Loudoun County, and Prince William County (Neighbors in Need Fund only)

Does The Community Foundation award grants to individuals?

No. The Community Foundation makes grants to nonprofit organizations that are tax-exempt under section 501 (c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Service Code.

My organization does not have tax-exempt status. Can I still apply?

The Community Foundation funds nonprofit organizations having evidence of tax-exempt status under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code and not classified as a private foundation. We also accept letters of inquiry/proposals from organizations operating under a nonprofit fiscal sponsor. All grantees must be able to provide a copy of an official IRS Determination letter or proof of fiscal sponsorship upon request.

What happens after I submit a proposal or Letter of Intent?

 The Community Foundation utilizes a standard due diligence process to assess the qualifications of each proposal for funding. The due diligence process can take between 3 – 6 months, however consult the guidelines for the specific funding opportunity to which you are applying for detailed timelines and notification dates. The basic steps in the due diligence process include:

  • Review grant proposals, budget and supplemental documents;
  • Conduct interviews with organization and project leadership via a site visit (in person or via phone);
  • Conduct additional follow-up research as needed;
  • Present funding recommendations to the donor advisor or Collaborative Board for decisions;
  • Grant recommendations ratified by the Foundation’s board of directors; and,
  • Applicants notified of decisions.

Note: Not all applicant organizations will proceed through the full review process if significant deficiencies are identified.

Does The Community Foundation provide emergency grants?

No.

Does The Community Foundation award multi-year grants?

The funding time period is dictated by each fund. However, there are several funds at The Foundation that do offer multi-year funding. More information about funding opportunities can be found on our grant opportunities page.

How do I learn about funding opportunities?

Check our grant opportunities page.

How are community foundations different from private foundations?

A community foundation is a publicly supported, nonprofit, tax-exempt organization that maintains a diverse grantmaking program in a specific community or region. In its general charitable purpose, a community foundation is much like a private foundation; its funds, however, are derived from many unrelated donors rather than a single source, as is usually the case with private foundations. Further, community foundations are classified under the tax code as public charities, subjecting them to different tax policies and regulations than private foundations.

What type of organization can my client recommend for grants?

You may recommend a 501(c)(3) nonprofit public charity. If you have a question about a particular organization, please contact our Grants Manager, Kathy Matthews at (202) 263-4773 or kmatthews@cfncr.org.

How does my client make a grant to an organization?

A donor submits a grant recommendation to the donor relations department of The Community Foundation by completing a donor suggestion form. Staff verifies the charitable intent of the recommendation and processes it for board approval on a monthly basis. This process is now also electronic through DonorCentral.

When can my client recommend a grant?

Grant recommendations can be made monthly. Suggestions are received the first of every month. Donors can recommend one or many grants within a year while simultaneously scheduling an annual gift to take place at a future date.

When my client recommends a grant, how long does it take to receive the funds?

Grants are usually processed in three days unless additional grantee vetting is required.

May my client recommend a grant to an individual?

No. According to IRS regulations, The Community Foundation may make distributions only to qualifying nonprofit organizations. Our staff checks all organizations for documentation of nonprofit status. Scholarship grants are possible; however, the recipient of the grant will be responsible for any tax liability.

Can my client recommend grants to organizations outside the DC metro region?

Yes. Donors may recommend grants to any qualified 501(c)(3) public charity or operating foundation in the country.

Can my client recommend a multi-year grant from their fund?

Yes. At the time of recommendation, please indicate that the gift should be made in increments and specify the timeframe. We will administer the distribution and payment schedule. Please remember donors may not pay a pre-existing legally binding pledge from their fund.

Can my client recommend grants anonymously?

Yes. You may request that the fund name and/or the donor’s name remain anonymous. In addition, you may request that the fund name not appear in The Community Foundation’s annual reports and other relevant publications.

Who can recommend grants from my client’s fund?

Anyone on record as an advisor for your client’s fund can recommend grants. The Foundation will consider written requests to add additional advisors to their fund.

What happens to the fund after my client’s lifetime?

We encourage donors to name a Successor Advisor(s) to succeed them in making grant recommendations from their fund. You can find additional information on this topic in the donor handbook, here.

Can my client change the name of their fund?

Yes. The Foundation will consider changing the name of the fund. A written request to change the name of the fund is required.

My client needs information about nonprofits.

The Community Foundation’s professional staff is very knowledgeable about a wide variety of programs and will be glad to work with your client to identify grant recipients. In addition, nonprofits can be searched by program area within our donor web portal.

By law, can my client serve on the board of an organization and recommend a grant…?

Yes, as long as they receive no personal benefit from the grant.