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Frequently Asked Questions

General Questions

Union County Foundation, Inc. (UCF) is a nonprofit charitable foundation serving the Union County community that does three things:   1.) We help people (just like you) practice highly effective charitable giving & create legacies. 2.) We award grants to not-for-profits and nonprofits and scholarships to individuals. 3.) We work to make Union County community a better place. Founded in 1989 by local citizens, the Union County Foundation has more than $11.6 million charitable assets under management in more than 117 named endowment funds.

A community foundation is a tax exempt, non-profit, publicly supported philanthropic organization with the long term goal of building permanent, named funds, for the broad-based public benefit of the residents in a given area.

The common mission of every community foundation is to enhance the quality of life in the local area. Community foundations carry out this very broad mission by building permanent endowment funds and using a portion of the annual income to support a variety of local nonprofit organizations through grants and special projects.

Most community foundation assets are held in separate funds established by local individuals, families, businesses, or charitable institutions. Each fund may have a special purpose, but the foundation board of directors, representing the community, oversees them all.

The IRS recognizes community foundations as public charities in part because they receive support from the general public and their boards broadly represent the areas served.

Private foundations have one donor who donates money and directs how and to whom grants are distributed. One fund with one donor’s intention. The Union County Foundation is a collection of more than 117 funds, each with its own unique purpose, established by different individuals, families or organizations. Our job is to oversee, administer and steward each of those funds in accordance with the donor’s intent. Tax laws are more favorable to community foundations than private foundations.

While most nonprofits are very specific, mission-driven organizations, the Foundation’s mission is broader – we’re here to help you support whatever causes are important to you. We can help you support all of your charitable interests, whether they are health and human services, arts and culture, the environment, education or religious causes. You’re able to make one gift and support many causes. A community foundation provides lasting support to other non-profits by building permanent endowments.

It is not an either / or question. If you are supporting a local nonprofit, we urge you to continue your support as that organization relies on you to help provide their services. The Foundation can help you include a provision in your estate plan to support the causes you care about forever. A gift to the Foundation to support a favorite charity or cause is a permanent gift that will produce income for years to come.

The Foundation has the expertise and ability to permanently – efficiently and effectively – manage your endowed gift for the benefit of one or more charities of your choice.

If you’re looking to make a real difference in your community, there are several advantages to partnering with a community foundation like UCF. Here are a few:

  • We are a local organization with deep community roots.
  • Our staff & Board has extensive knowledge and expertise regarding community issues and needs.
  • We provide personalized service tailored to your charitable and financial interests.
  • Our donor-advised funds help you invest in the causes you most care about.
  • We accept a wide variety of assets, and can facilitate the most complex forms of giving.
  • We can partner with your professional advisor on a highly effective approach to giving.
  • We offer maximum tax advantages under state and federal law.
  • We multiply the impact of your gift dollars by pooling them with other gifts and grants
  • We pool all the gifts for the purpose of maximizing the investment return and use a carefully crafted investment policy. (Even though all endowments are accounted for separately)
  • We build endowment funds that benefit the community and help you build your legacy.
  • As a community leader, we convene agencies and coordinate resources to create positive change.
We can craft your unique charitable fund in a way that it will forever honor your charitable intent. You can do much more through a fund here than with an outright donation towards a single mission. And leaving your lasting legacy through a fund at the Foundation is simple and impacts your favorite causes for generations.

Our donors are individuals, families, corporations, private foundations, and charitable organizations that wish to make a difference in the lives of others and to make the Union County community a better place.

There have been countless projects, programs and scholarship awards financially supported by the Union County Foundation since its inception! More than 3.5 million dollars has been granted to the community and this number grows every year!

But our community foundation is about so much more than grants and scholarships:

  • We have been a local partner to the Lilly Endowment, Inc. which has generously granted millions of dollars to Union County and its people through our Foundation.
  • We help folks like you create ever-lasting legacies.
  • We continuously work to identify needs and find solutions for our community’s ever-changing needs.
  • Working as a facilitator, a community foundation is able to pull together people, ideas, and resources for positive community change and growth.

A local volunteer board of directors governs the Foundation. The board members are geographically and philosophically representative of the community’s diversity. The list of current board members and officers can be found on our website.

An endowment is a fund set up by an individual or organization through a written agreement between the donor and the Foundation. Gifts to the fund are invested. Investment income is used to make grants or scholarships. The original value of the gift – the principal – is not spent. Endowment funds at the Foundation are pooled for investment purposes (to generate greater returns) but each individual fund is accounted for separately.

The Foundation has adopted, along with hundreds of endowment managers in the country, a Total Return Policy. The policy has two goals: to maintain and increase the real value of the endowment and to smooth out the short-term roller coaster ride that inevitably results from investing in the marketplace.

Depending on the current climate, the Foundation generally awards about 4% of a fund’s average market value over the preceding 12 quarters. New funds must be invested a full calendar year before they can make grants.

We offer several types of funds, and we’ll work with you to choose one that will meet your personal, financial, and philanthropic goals. For many of these funds, $5,000 is the minimum opening gift (payable over 5 years). UCF is a 501(c) (3) public charity. Depending on the type of contribution, you may be eligible for significant charitable tax deductions. You can make additional contributions to the fund whenever you wish. Others can also make contributions to your fund; perhaps to mark a special occasion or support a special project that interests you. All of our endowed funds are carefully invested to ensure your generosity will last for generations.

An administrative fee is nothing more than an investment you’re making in the Foundation that allows it to administer your fund and support the work we do for our community. Your fee allows us to: provide a tax deduction, ensure compliance with ever-changing laws, provide transparent fund accounting, process gifts and grants, provide community leadership, and manage endowment investments. Unlike investing with a large, national company, your fee stays here in the community. We know the needs of this community and you help us provide leadership and support on important local issues and we work every day to ensure your fund does what you want it do. And that’s a wise investment!

Our Operating Endowment is used to provide income for our operating budget, so we can keep our service fees low. It allows us to maintain a local presence in Union County, and continue to provide the needed support.

Absolutely! At the Union County Foundation, we have more than 98 funds. All gifts to the Foundation benefit the agencies and causes right here in our own county. And if a fund doesn’t already exist to support the causes dearest to your heart, we can work with you to create one.

The Union County Foundation uses professional investment managers who abide by our investment policy and commitment to our donors that their funds will last in perpetuity. We invest your endowed funds in a manner designed to keep pace with inflation and allow the fund to grow over time – 10, 50, 100 years from now, your fund will still be providing a growing stream of revenue for your favorite charitable causes!

Donor Questions & Advised Funds

The minimum amount to establish a donor-advised fund can be as small as $1,000. Then, over the next 5 years, the donor must invest a total of $5,000 at minimum. The fund can start providing grants after the $5,000 balance is reached.

Generally, we can set up a fund in a few days. Depending on the type of asset being gifted, or the complexity of the gift arrangement, the timeframe may be longer. It’s always best to contact the UCF staff to determine the timing that may apply in your situation, particularly at year end.

The Foundation has adopted, along with hundreds of endowment managers in the country, a Total Return Policy. The policy has two goals: to maintain and increase the real value of the endowment and to smooth out the short-term roller coaster ride that inevitably results from investing in the marketplace.

Depending on the current climate, the Foundation generally awards about 4% of a fund’s average market value over the preceding 12 quarters. New funds must be invested a full calendar year before they can make grants.

Absolutely! Children, grandchildren, siblings or other trusted family members or individuals may be named to the fund’s advisory committee. When the advisory period ends, the fund will perpetually support your specific charitable interests.

Definitely. We encourage you to contact the Union County Foundation to discuss a bequest to ensure that your charitable wishes are carried out in perpetuity.

Since inception, the Foundation has had a Finance and Investment Committee made up of local volunteers with investment expertise. They advise the board on investment policy and management. The investments are spread over a variety of stocks and bonds. Additionally, the Foundation uses several renowned investment firms as investment managers.

Every year, the Foundation undergoes an independent audit of all financial statements. Furthermore, the Union County Foundation regularly re-certifies with the highest national operational and ethical standards for community foundations. Compliance with the demanding National Standards assures the top notch quality of service provided by our foundation to its donors, grantees and all other stakeholders.

There are a variety of options for making donations. By combining your resources with those of others who share your interests, you can maximize the impact of a modest contribution. Gifts of any size make a difference and are always appreciated.

You may contact the professional staff at the Union County Foundation who will be happy to update you on the status of your fund.

Yes, all grants can be made anonymously, or you can request a specific grant be made anonymously on occasion.

Not necessarily; grants from a Foundation fund may be made to any 501(c)3 public charity, church or school in the United States.

The Foundation staff provides all the planning to help you create your fund, including drafting the fund agreement that governs the terms and conditions of your gift. All IRS reporting and fund accounting, as well as performing the required due diligence on your requested grants, is provided. If desired, we can also provide you with information on area non-profits, causes, and issues that you want to learn more about. All of these services are covered by the Foundation’s basic administrative fee.

Your financial objectives are obviously the most important thing to consider when you are doing planned giving. If you have a sizable estate, much of it could be taxed at 46%. However if you have planned for charitable giving, then the taxes are less and the amount available for your heirs could remain the same. There are many types of planned giving vehicles that can reduce or avoid some taxes while still providing assets for your heirs. Call our office at (765) 458-7664 to learn more.

Grants & Scholarships

Every quarter the UCF accepts applications for the Community Impact Grants. Charitable organizations may fill out a grant application and then submit it to the Foundation. The Foundation’s Grant Committee, composed of volunteer community members, reviews all of the applications and determines who the recipients will be.

Not-for-profit organizations can also create permanent endowments called Agency Funds. These funds support the ongoing needs of their charitable missions. While the principal of the fund is preserved, the earnings from the fund are disbursed annually to provide a consistent source of income to the organizations. Organizations seeking grant money do not have to have a fund with the Community Foundation.

Scholarships are just one facet of the Union County Foundations’ work. While the Union County Foundation administers many scholarship funds and is widely known for the Lilly Endowment Community Scholarship, this is just a portion of the charitable granting that is done annually.

Union County Foundation’s mission is to assist donors in building and preserving perpetual charitable funds; to meet the changing needs of our community and to enrich the quality of life for the residents of Union County.

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