FAQ for Donors

Why should I establish a named fund at the Washington County Community Foundation?

The mission of the Washington County Community Foundation is to help you accomplish personal philanthropic and estate planning objectives in a cost-effective fashion. You’ll never feel any pressure when discussing your philanthropic dreams or charitable goals. 

Our goal is to help you accomplish your objectives.

Who do I contact if I have questions?

You may contact the Foundation at 724-222-6330.  Our entire staff is available for your questions and comments.

How do I create a fund? 

Washington County Community Foundation uses a "Letter of Agreement" format to establish a fund. This simple document outlines the purposes of the fund so that we are clear on the donors intentions. Funds can be created within a day with no costs.

While there is no requirement that you consult a professional advisor, the Washington County Community Foundation always recommends donors consider doing this before making any significant philanthropic decision.

Are you interested in endowments or gifts that help charities today?

Actually, both. Most of our named funds are permanently endowed. This creates a growing source of hope and support for generations to come. It is also possible to create funds that spend-down all, or part, of the original gift. There is actually no limit to the  charitable goals that can be accomplished through the Washington County Community Foundation.

Are you interested in current gifts, or a gift through a will or estate plan? 

Many donors like to establish funds during their lifetimes. This lets them see the good work that can be done through a partnership with the Washington County Community Foundation. We are also interested in helping donors who want to leave a legacy through their will or other estate plan. Please visit our Bequests page to see the many options available.

How is a community foundation different from a private foundation? 

A community foundation is a collection of named funds all operating under the administrative umbrella of a single, publicly-supported, entity. Community foundations typically operate broad-based grant making programs. They also distribute specific grants as defined by original donor agreements. 

Donations to a community foundation generally qualify for higher tax deductions. As many different funds are pooled, administrative costs are typically less. A single audit and a single 990 form cover all funds operating within a community foundation. Community foundations also pay no tax on their earnings. There are no minimum payout requirements and funds can accumulate for some future charitable purposes. 

While professional advisors vary on the specific amount, many will agree that private foundations are not cost-effective for donations of $1 million or less. 

The end result of this pooling of funds is the saving of administrative costs; making more money available for worthy charities.

How much money is needed to create a named fund within the Washington County Community Foundation?

Generally speaking, named funds are established with minimum gifts of $25,000. You may also create a fund over a period of five years.

What assets can be used to create a new fund or make a contribution to an existing fund?” 

The Community Foundation can accept contributions in the following forms: cash, securities, bonds, real property, tangible assets, bequest, retirement plan, life insurance, Charitable Gift Annuity, Charitable Remainder Trust, and Charitable Lead Trust.  Electronic credit card contributions to existing funds can be made using this website.

What is the spending policy?

The Foundation, in compliance with 15 Pa.C.S. 5548(c), utilizes a total return investment and payout policy. Accordingly, payouts may range from 2%-7% of the fair market value of the endowment, averaged over a three-year period. The Board of Trustees annually determines the payout percentage based primarily on current market conditions.

Can my grant making be more than just the income from an endowment fund?

Absolutely. You can create funds that spend down principal balance over time. The Washington County Community Foundation can also handle immediate "pass-through” gifts where 100% of the donation is granted in accordance with your wishes. Our goal is to be a flexible tool to assist with your charitable giving. There is virtually no limit to the charitable objectives that can be accomplished through the Washington County Community Foundation.

Is the Washington County Community Foundation just for donors interested in helping local organizations?

Our unrestricted grant-making endowments are limited to organizations serving Washington County. Income from these funds is distributed to a wide variety of local organizations through an open, widely publicized, and competitive grant-making process.

Donors may also create funds to benefit their favored causes throughout the country.

May I create a fund that benefits individuals? 

No. Grants may only be distributed to charitable organizations.

What about scholarships?

The Washington County Community Foundation is home to nearly 30 different scholarship funds. These are very popular with donors. Grants from these funds may go to individuals; but you can not earmark a specific beneficiary. Foundation staff can help with language to insure the scholarship is operating legally. There is no need for advance IRS qualification of the scholarship fund.

What is a Donor Advised Fund? 

With a Donor Advised Fund, the donor or designee may annually recommend the charitable cause to benefit.

What about fees? 

There is no fee to create a new fund. Once the fund is created, there is an annual administrative fee charged to each fund.  The fee is a percentage of the fair market value of the fund as of December 31, averaged over a 3-year period. Currently, the administrative fee for permanent funds range from 1% to 2%.

How does the Washington County Community Foundation manage its endowment? 

Generally speaking, all endowed funds within the Foundation are pooled and operate under a single investment management policy. Our primary investment objective is to preserve, and enhance, the charitable “purchasing power” of endowed funds over time. 

The Foundation's finance committee closely monitors investment performance. Individual managers are held accountable to specific benchmarks. When necessary, changes are made. We also measure ourselves against our peers.

What else do I need to know? 

We are here to help you accomplish your charitable goals. We understand decisions are made on your timetable, so we are always happy to meet with you.  Please view us as your philanthropic resource.