Giving to Community Foundations can have a longer-lasting impact

By Cathy Janek for Chronicle Media

Community Foundation President Jeff Hartman speaks at the 2016 Grantee Recognition Ceremony in Aurora. (Photo courtesy of Community Foundation of Fox River Valley)

A few coins tossed into Salvation Army red kettles or donating a toy or coat bought for a child can serve an immediate need in this season of giving.

But there’s also a way to give a gift with a longer-lasting impact.

Community Foundations offer an alternative for charitable donations—one that can provide a long-range and substantial financial impact within a given community throughout the entire year.

Across the United States, there are about 750 Community Foundations, according to Jeffrey Hartman, president of the Community Foundation of the Fox River Valley.

“We are all very similar in purpose, but we are all focused on our local community,” he said. “Community Foundation funds can provide an efficient vehicle for individuals to give back to their favorite charities all year long.

“Oftentimes, we will see individuals who support a number of charities throughout the year consolidate their giving utilizing a Community Foundation fund and make recommendations on how the funds will be dispersed to their favorite charities,” Hartman added.

According to the Alliance of Illinois Community Foundations, there are 29 Community Foundations in Illinois, overseeing assets totaling $1.8 billion and awarding grants each year of almost $200 million.

The Community Foundation of the Fox Valley started in 1948 in Aurora and recently expanded its Geneva office. It initially managed one fund and had $5,200 in assets.

“They were founded on the basis of how can we channel our taxable resources and keep them in the community and better our local nonprofits,” Hartman said.

The Fox Valley foundation  now manages 525 charitable funds created by individuals, community groups, nonprofits, and corporations of which about 200 are scholarship funds. It also manages $88 million in assets.

“We have given away more than $60 million,” he said.

Individuals don’t need millions to start their own fund. Individuals can start their own pass-through fund for “as little as $500.”

Funds are set up as either pass-through funds or endowment funds which require a $10,000 donation.

Recent years has seen an  increase in the number of individuals creating a fund within a Community Foundation rather than creating a separate foundation.

“A donor-advised fund at the Community Foundation is a great alternative to those who are interested in starting their own private foundation, but don’t have the resources to do that,” Hartman said. “Funds can be created without the administrative costs that would be involved with starting a private foundation.”

Funds with balances of $500 to $10,000 within the Community Foundation of the Fox Valley are not charged an administrative fee.


The Foundation charges a 0.50 percent administration fee on the market value of those funds over $10,000 and up to $1 million and .25% for any amount over that amount.

Five local banks in Kane County handle the funds’ assets, Hartman said.

“A gift to a Community Foundation is tax deductible up to a certain adjusted gross income—similarly to giving to food pantry, shelter, or social service agency,” he said.

In addition, Hartman said individuals may donate securities such as stocks to receive a tax deduction for the current market value of the stock.

“With the performance of the stock market over the last number of years, we are seeing more individuals gift their appreciated assets and receive a fair market deduction today and not pay capital gains on that asset, “ Hartman said.

Individuals also can donate up to $100,000 directly from their IRA and avoid claiming the distribution as income.

“It is very popular right now to create a fund in a family’s name.  People want to create a legacy for their family—something that they can pass down in perpetuity to their children and grandchildren,” Hartman said.

Following are select community foundations serving the Chicago suburbs and northern and central Illinois regions:

Community Foundation for the Fox Valley


111 W Downer Pl, Suite 312, Aurora, phone: (630) 896-7800, email:, or website: To donate directly to a fund visit t


Community Foundation of Northern Illinois


Founded in 1953, the Community Foundation of Northern Illinois manages more than 400 individual funds with more than $95 million in assets that is used to give grants to Boone, Ogle, Stephenson, and Winnebago County charitable organizations and scholarships. Contact: 946 North Second Street Rockford, phone 815 962 2110, email To donate visit

Community Foundation of Central Illinois

 The Community Foundation of Central Illinois serves a 50-mile radius surrounding the City of Peoria (excluding Knox and McLean County). It manages 475 funds including 60 scholarship funds and has assets numbering $35,824.   In 2017, Community Foundation of Central Illinois awarded $208,678 in grants. Contact: 3625 North Sheridan Road, Peoria, phone (309) 674-8730,  To donate, visit and use the Donate Through Network for Good link.

DeKalb County Community Foundation 

Established in 1993, the DeKalb County Community Foundation has grown to manage 335 funds and more than $50 million in assets. They distribute approximately $2 million per year in grants and scholarships to nonprofit, community organizations, and students in DeKalb County. Contact:  475 DeKalb Avenue, Sycamore, phone  815-748-5383, email or website  To donate visit

DuPage Foundation  

The DuPage Foundation was formed in 1986 and has nearly $90 million in assets and awarded nearly $35 million in grants to nonprofit agencies serving the residents of DuPage County and the surrounding communities. Contact:  3000 Woodcreek Dr., Suite. 310, Downers Grove, phone, (630) 665- 5556,  To donate visit


Illinois Prairie Community Foundation

Now in its 21st year, the Illinois Prairie Community Foundation facilitates philanthropy in McLean, DeWitt, Livingston and Logan counties. The Foundation currently manages nearly 150 funds and has assets of more than $15 million. In the past 12 months, funds have dispersed more than $1 million to nonprofit organizations. Contact: 2401 E. Washington, Suite 300B, Bloomington, phone (309) 662-4477, email: or To donate visit





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