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

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.