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What is a Community Foundation?

A Community Foundation is a collection of individual funds and resources given by residents 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 within the confines of one large foundation. The income from these separate funds- and the principal if the donor desires- can help a community respond to emerging problems and opportunities, as well as prepare for its future.

What “community” does it cover? How do you serve?

The Community Foundation of the Texas Hill Country generally serves the counties of Bandera, Gillespie, Kendall and Kerr. Several donors, however, have interests elsewhere which they fund through the community foundation.

Where do you get the money you donate?

Donors to community foundations range from people of relatively modest means to those with large financial resources. By establishing a fund or donating to an existing fund within a community foundation, donors can contribute their gifts of cash and appreciated property toward a permanent named endowment. This enables their contributions to have a long-term impact that will continue to meet community needs over time. Many donors are interested in planned giving and have the Community Foundation in their charitable remainder trust.

Who governs The Community Foundation?

The Community Foundation donors are people with a strong sense of community and personal commitment to making a significant contribution to the communities in which they live. Some donors tell us that the resources we bring to weighing the unique contributions of organizations seeking support is an important feature for them. They want to support worthwhile causes in their communities, and the Community Foundation can help them find the best way to commit their funds. Other donors appreciate the speed, flexibility, and ease of using a Community Foundation. Because the legal apparatus is already in place, existing forms are available so that a fund literally can be established, and the tax advantages obtained in a very short time. Donors also appreciate the opportunities for a long-term giving, providing opportunities to improve the quality of life in Hill Country County communities now and for future generations.

What are the financial benefits and tax advantages of gifting through The Community Foundation?

The Community Foundation approach to planned giving offers a number of important financial benefits to donors. Because community foundations manage a large number of unrestricted and discretionary funds, administrative costs and service fees for any one fund is minimized - meaning less overhead cost to the donor’s fund. Another important advantage is that the Federal tax code provides significant incentives for contributions to a community foundation.

What does a Community Foundation do?

Community foundations make grants to qualified nonprofit organizations which are active in maintaining the educational, health, human service, social, cultural, environmental and civic resources of the county. The foundation professionally manages and distributes income from charitable gifts and bequests in a manner consistent with the donor’s specific and general interests. Finally, community foundations provide philanthropic leadership and help create and promote efforts among residents to improve the quality of life in the community.


Types of funds:
Unrestricted Funds offer the broadest giving option, allowing grants to be made wherever the board determines our community’s needs are the greatest. 

Field-of-Interest Funds create grants that meet needs in a particular field or geographic area that is of interest to the donor.

Why be a donor?

The Community Foundation donors are people with a strong sense of community and personal commitment to making a significant contribution to the communities in which they live. Some donors tell us that the resources we bring to weighing the unique contributions of organizations seeking support is an important feature for them. They want to support worthwhile causes in their communities, and the Community Foundation can help them find the best way to commit their funds. Other donors appreciate the speed, flexibility, and ease of using a Community Foundation. Because the legal apparatus is already in place, existing forms are available so that a fund literally can be established, and the tax advantages obtained in a very short time. Donors also appreciate the opportunities for a long-term giving, providing opportunities to improve the quality of life in Hill Country County communities now and for future generations.

Is this a national or local group?

The Community Foundation is completely autonomous and decisions are made locally. The Foundation is a member of the Council on Foundations and can use the Council as a resource on policy, legal, and tax questions. There are nearly 550 Community Foundations nationally and they are the fastest growing instrument of planned giving in the United States. The first community foundation was founded in 1914. The Community Foundation of the Texas Hill Country was established in 1982.

What do you fund?

Since 1982 we have been granting to nonprofit organizations addressing the full range of issues. This includes the areas of education, health, human resources, arts & culture, environment, economic development, and social justice. In addition, Field of Interest and special funding initiatives enable us to conduct significant grant making that addresses other specific community initiatives.

How is this different from United Way?

Both are important resources to the community. They are both necessary and compatible. Some have described the differences by suggesting the United Way is more like the community’s check book, raising and distributing money annually, while a community foundation is more like a savings account, distributing interest from long-term funds in perpetuity. Additional differences include The Community Foundation’s broad scope of funding, including the arts, education, the environment, and scholarships, not just health and human services.