So…What do we do here, anyway?
by Iris Leon, Executive Director, Delaware County Community Foundation
As DCCF’s Executive Director, I spend a lot of my time out of the office meeting with a diverse cross section of community stakeholders. As a proud and self-professed philanthropy nerd, I’m always excited to introduce someone to the concept of a community foundation for the first time.
So, really—what do we do here anyway? The heart of it is that, as your local community foundation, DCCF’s mission is to improve the quality of life for those living and working in Delaware County. We aim to make this community a better place for all. How we do this is through philanthropy—generated by and benefitting the local Delaware County community.
Through DCCF, individuals, families, nonprofits, and businesses have the opportunity to create lasting philanthropic legacies. Some have special short-term projects that we administer. But for many, we serve as the permanent way that community members give back, through the generations.
We are a public charity (i.e. a nonprofit) with a 501(c)3 tax-exempt status from the IRS. We differ from a private or family foundation in that we are a collection of funds from a broad base of community stakeholders, as opposed to one large endowment started by one person, family, or company. Our mission is also broad but geographically based—focused on Delaware County as a whole—as opposed to other nonprofits and foundations that have specific programmatic missions or funding priorities such as youth development, poverty alleviation, or arts and culture.
Why work with your local community foundation?
- Knowledge of our community
- As a locally rooted organization, DCCF is positioned to see community needs in a broad but comprehensive way. We are a nongovernmental, nonpartisan organization that can be nimble and responsive to evolving community needs. We welcome collaboration with other funders, nonprofits, and local government to determine the most effective ways to give. We advise donors on where and how to be philanthropic and connect them with nonprofits working in their areas of interest.
- Investment expertise
- We serve as a trusted fiduciary of charitable assets with the knowledge and expertise to ensure that funds are invested responsibly and available over the long-term.
- It’s easy! Oh, and cheap!
- We take the administrative burden out of managing and administering grantmaking programs. Our overhead is lower and the tax benefits are better than opening a private or family foundation. As a public charity, we also don’t have the same distribution and reporting requirements of private foundations. Donors are free to focus on the fun and meaningful side of charitable giving.
- We accept a broad range of assets including cash, securities, and real property. We also provide flexible ways for donors to give and engage with their favorite causes—even as their interests change over time.
What kinds of funds can we manage?
DCCF works with individuals, families, nonprofits and businesses to establish or support funds with charitable intents. Charitable funds can be in several forms including:
- Unrestricted Funds – as a locally focused organization with a broad view of the community, contributing to DCCF for unrestricted purposes allows us to meet the most pressing local needs, as they change over time.
- Donor Advised Funds – people can establish funds to support charities at their own discretion and at their own pace. Funds can be established as permanent legacies with named successor advisors, thereby encouraging another generation of engaged philanthropists.
- Designated Funds – people can designate one or more named charities or causes to support in perpetuity. This options makes sense when a donor would prefer to make consistent, recurring gifts to one or more specific charities over time or when there are concerns about a charity’s long-term viability or ability to manage a single large gift.
- Field of Interest Funds – people can start new or support existing funds in defined areas of interest. Field of interest funds can have broad areas of focus, such as “education” or “the arts,” or can have a narrower mission. For example, the DCCF Hope for Children Fund supports organizations that help abused and neglected children in Delaware County find healing and safety through a competitive grant application process.
- Scholarship Funds – individuals, organizations, and groups, like school or college alumni groups, can open scholarships funds based on unique criteria. DCCF can administer the scholarship selection and distribution process, or work with donor advisors to identify an appropriate process.
- Agency Endowment Funds – DCCF has the expertise to help other nonprofits and educational institutions manage and grow their endowments, further strengthening the nonprofit sector in Delaware County.
I hope that sheds some light on what we do at the Delaware County Community Foundation. If you have questions or are interested in learning more, feel free to contact me at the office any time. I love nothing more than indulging my inner philanthropy nerd. So, just call me if you want to get geeky about giving!