Frequently Asked Questions
Since many donors and professionals ask very similar questions, we have put together a collection of these most Frequently Asked Questions. If you have questions that are not addressed here or if you wish to contact us for any other reason, please feel free to do so.
What is a "Community Foundation?"
A community foundation is a collection of individual funds and resources given by local citizens to enhance and support the quality of life in their community. It is a tax-exempt public charity that allows many individuals, through gifts and bequests, to establish permanent endowment funds under the umbrella of one large foundation. Money generated by these funds is distributed to the local community in the form of grants to other nonprofit organizations and agencies to address needs and opportunities.
The CACF was founded in 1987 to provide simple, flexible, and effective ways for permanent endowment funds to be established and managed. The foundation works with donors to help achieve their personal, financial, and philanthropic goals and to establish endowments for a variety of purposes. The CACF is completely autonomous and all decisions are made locally.
CACF is one of the over 650 community foundations nationwide. CACF is a member of the Council on Foundations, an association that represents all types of charitable giving programs. Community Foundations are the fastest growing vehicle for giving in the United States.
Where does the CACF get its funds?
The Foundation's funds come from individuals who recognize the need for a permanent base of charitable capital to support nonprofit activities. Endowments are built by pooling contributions from many individuals.
If I am not a “Rockefeller,” is the community foundation for me?
Community foundations offer 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 modest contributions with minimal costs. The Foundation also welcomes honorariums and memorial gifts.
Are gifts to the community foundation tax-deductible?
Yes. The CACF is recognized as a 501(c)3 organization by the Internal Revenue Service.
How are the funds invested and administered?
A diversified investment portfolio is managed by the trust departments of Edward Jones as well as Jackson Thornton Asset Management, Merrill Lynch Private Wealth Managment, Vulcan Value Partners and Welch, Hornsby & Welch. Investment guidelines emphasize the protection of the corpus with the generation of income. The investment committee seeks total return with minimum risk over the long term. Trustees review investment performance semi-annually, and the CACF's staff oversees the distribution of income to more than 200 nonprofit entities located predominantly in central Alabama.
What do you fund?
To date, more than $50 million has been given to nonprofit organizations and individuals. In addition, the Foundation administers scholarship funds which benefit students in Autauga, Coffee, Dale, Elmore, Geneva, Henry, Houston, Lowndes, Montgomery, and Pike, Counties.
How do you apply for a grant?
The CACF uses an application portal which can be obtained from the Grants section of our website.
How is the CACF different from the United Way?
Both are important resources to the community. Both are necessary and compatible. Some have described the differences by suggesting the United Way is more like a community checkbook (raising and distributing money annually) while a community foundation is more like a savings account (distributing interest from long-term funds in perpetuity). An additional difference is CACF's broad scope of funding (including arts, religion, and scholarships, not just health and human services) and its greater base of grantees.