Putting the Community in Community Foundation

By Steven Smith | Financial Lifestyle

Nov 30

At a recent board meeting, one of our Trustees at The Summit Foundation succinctly described our mission as “raising money and giving it away.” If only it were that simple. The charitable among us, from the lift attendant having $10 a week deducted from her paycheck to the successful founder of a family foundation, all want confidence that our philanthropic dollars are cared for by intelligent and attendant stewards. The community foundation, of which The Summit Foundation is among hundreds nationwide, is unique in its ability to serve this need.

A Little History

The community foundation structure has evolved over the last century from a loose amalgamation of private charities whose missions and structures had outlived their usefulness to a form specifically recognized by the IRS beginning in 1969. We are organized in perpetuity as a public charity (donations to which have certain tax advantages) as opposed to a private foundation.  We do not operate any programs. Instead, we act as a hub, receiving donations from members of our community and making grants to numerous nonprofit organizations – serving their individual missions – representing a broad range of demographics and interests within and around Summit County. We also sponsor a college scholarship program for students graduating from local high schools.

Reliable Infrastructure

Approximately 35 Trustees comprise our board, representing, among others, the business, legal, medical and finance professions. We have representatives from local government as well as from the ski resorts, whose generosity in providing ski passes for our medallion program is unmatched.  A well-trained and hard-working staff is responsible for the day-to-day operations.

Multiple financial controls assure the safety of your donations. We maintain extensive internal bookkeeping records, our financial statements are audited by an external CPA firm and we annually file the required 990 tax and information return with the IRS.

Committees of the board oversee critical functions. Foremost is the grants committee, which takes considerable time to understand and work with the nonprofit organizations and reviews each grant request before making a recommendation to the board on funding.

Finally, we provide education and training programs for the nonprofit community and seek to instill a sense of collaboration among the various organizations.

Fund Raising and Management

Through our ski medallion program, annual campaign, employee giving program and special events, we plan to raise nearly $1.9 million during this fiscal year. In turn, we will make nearly $1.4 million in grants and provide $130,000 in scholarships.

The Summit Foundation is also supported by a $5 million endowment, approximately half of which is unrestricted funds. The other half represents Donor Advised Funds established by local philanthropic families and businesses to help carry out their planned giving strategies. Donors and their families make recommendations to the board as to how these funds are granted. In addition, local nonprofits can establish an agency fund to house their smaller endowments until they are large enough to be managed individually. The finance and investment committee, along with outside professional investment managers, are responsible for investment policy and oversight of the endowment.

So, whether your interest in community philanthropy is simply feeling confident that your annual donations are well administered or part of a comprehensive legacy plan, The Summit Foundation can play a beneficial role.

As you can see, we just raise money and give it away.

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