Frequently Asked Questions about Community Foundations:


What is a Community Foundation?

Community Foundations are public charities that support local community causes. Our role is to manage donor funds and build endowments as well as make grants to charities and community groups, linking local donors with local needs.

What makes Community Foundations different?

Community Foundations can meet the community where it is to mobilize local resources to fill local need in all areas including; arts and culture, education, environment, health, community development, youth, elderly and more. Community Foundations support cutting edge programs, can help create new organizations and meet new and emerging needs.

Why give to a Community Foundation?

Community Foundations help build sustainable communities, develop permanent charitable funds, connect donors to programs they care about and provide community leadership.

What is the difference between the Community Foundation and the United Way?

Both are important resources to the community and each complements the other. Simply put, the Community Foundation can be described as the communities savings account, distributing grants from long-term funds in perpetuity while the United Way is like the communities checking account, raising and distributing money annually.

Who decides how a community foundation’s funds are distributed?

BCF Grant Committee reviews all grant applications. The Grants Committee is a group of highly respected community leaders who are knowledgeable about the charitable needs of the community. Individuals who have Donor Advised Funds can participate in the grant making process by suggesting grants from their named fund.

Why should individuals/families establish a fund with the Foundation instead of giving directly to a favorite charity?

Giving directly to a charity of choice is not something we discourage. Starting a fund at the Foundation offers a way for many donors to give more robustly.

Can individuals with funds at the Community Foundation give to organizations outside of the community where the community foundation is located?

Yes. Community foundations can send grants from funds anywhere in the country.

Who handles the investment of community foundations?

They Bartlesville Community Foundation has employed a local investment firm – Arvest Wealth Management – to manage the pool of investments. A Finance Committee comprised of BCF board members monitor the investment returns and activity carefully to ensure compile with the investment policy.

Are there tax advantages of a community foundation over a private family foundation?

Community foundations are 501(c)3 public charities. This offers some advantages to donors over private foundations. For example, gifts of cash and ordinary property to a community foundation are deductible up to 50% of adjusted gross income (AGI). Gifts to private or family foundations are deductible only to 30% of AGI. Similarly, gifts of appreciated property to community foundations can be credited for 30% compared with 20% for a private foundation. There are no excise taxes on community foundations as there are on private foundations and community foundations do not have a requirement that a certain percentage must be distributed every year.

Is it ethical for advisors and attorneys to refer their clients to community foundations?

Sometimes attorneys and advisors question whether it is ethical for them to refer clients to community foundations. By doing so, are they advocating for a particular charitable cause? No. Because of the fundamental differences between community foundations and other charities.

The Bartlesville Community Foundation is organized to help people give effectively to improve the quality of life. They work with clients to help them give to charities they are passionate about, meet their tax planning goals, and do not dictate the type of gifts their donors can make. By making a referral to a community foundation, you are not advocating for a particular cause but helping your client reach their philanthropic goals.