What is a Community Foundation?

A community foundation is a public charity, tax exempt under IRS Code 501(c)(3) with the goal of improving the quality of life in their area. The purpose of a community foundation is to create a pool of charitable funds that are used for philanthropic good. A community foundation manages the funds, invests its assets and uses the earnings from the investments to award grants to a wide variety of non-profit organizations and community groups for charitable purposes.

What is the Community Foundation of Dunn County?

 The Community Foundation of Dunn County (formerly Greater Menomonie Area Community Foundation) was established in 1995 by a group of concerned citizens that saw a need for a community of donors to enhance the quality of life in the Dunn County Area.

The Community Foundation plays an important leadership role in Dunn County. We work to improve our community and solve problems, by identifying situations in need of community attention, engaging key stakeholders together to work collaboratively toward solutions on tough issues and longstanding community problems, by making key connections, starting meaningful dialogues, and mobilizing resources and ideas for real and lasting results in Dunn County. We are the local leader in nonprofit advocacy, education, information and networking.

The Community Foundation is local, governed by local community leaders; we know our community’s most pressing needs and can help channel resources to address them.

Who gives to a Community Foundation?

Anyone can make a charitable gift to a community foundation. Individuals, families, corporations, non-profit organizations and other foundations are among the diverse donors. Gifts to a community foundation help support a broad range of community programs and services including the arts and culture, history and heritage, health, education, recreation, the environment, humanitarian needs and civic improvement.

How many Community Foundations are there?

Today there are more than 700 Community Foundations around the United States and nearly 1,400 worldwide.

Can I make a gift even if I don’t want to establish a fund?

Donors do not need to establish a fund to make a gift to the Community Foundation.  Gifts may be made to any fund that is already established or to the Foundation. Many times individuals make memorial gifts to honor a loved one, friend or colleague. Anyone can make a gift of any size online, by mail, or with a transfer of securities.

What types of gifts are accepted?

Gifts may be in the form of cash, appreciated property such as securities or real estate, insurance policies, retirement plans or bequests. There are also life income or interest income gifts that your professional adviser or estate planner can provide more information about.

What is an endowment?

Endowments are permanent funds. The principal of the fund is retained and only the earnings are used to make grants. The policy of the Community Foundation of Dunn County is that an amount up to 5% of the fund balance may be distributed each year as long as that distribution does not cause the fund to go below its principal balance. The principal balance is the amount that was initially used to open the fund, plus any subsequent gifts to the fund.

An endowed fund requires a minimum of $10,000; however, donors may open a fund (an Acorn Fund) with a gift of $2,000 and a pledge to contribute an additional $2,000 per year until the fund reaches the endowed level. Grants from the fund are not made until it reaches the endowed level. Acorn Funds are placed in short term investments and the earnings are applied to the Foundation’s administration fund. No other fees are assessed until the fund reaches the endowed level.

Can I support other charities through the Community Foundation of Dunn County?

Several charities or non-profit organizations have funds established at the Community Foundation. You may make a gift to those funds at any time. You may also establish a designated fund of your own to support a favorite charity (or multiple charities). Then every year, a distribution may be made from the earnings to the designated charity.

What types of funds can be established?

 There are many options available through a community foundation that can meet the needs of almost any donor.

  • Donor Advised Funds (DAF) are the most flexible. Every year the donor (or donor advisers) may recommend that grants be awarded to charities that they care about. A DAF allows a donor to respond to changing community needs. Successor advisers may also be named so that family members may continue to be involved.
  • Field of Interest Funds (FOI) may be established to support areas of personal interest. As an example, you may want to support environmental issues or the arts. Grants are then awarded to organizations in your area of interest.
  • Designated Funds may be established to support a specific charity including your church, alma mater or other charity that you want to support.
  • Scholarship Funds may be established to honor a loved one or friend or co-worker. Scholarships may be established for a specific school or be open to all students in Dunn County. You may want to award scholarships to those entering a specific field or a more general scholarship. Other criteria may be established such as community service involvement, GPA, athletic accomplishments, financial need, career path, etc.
  • Organizational or Agency Funds. A non-profit organization or agency may establish an endowment fund as a way to help secure their future. Non-profit organizations are encouraged to establish permanent funds to help provide an additional income stream.
  • Community Fundraising. From time to time organizations also partner with the Community Foundation to provide fiscal sponsorship support for a major fundraising campaign. Using the services of the Community Foundation allows the organization and its volunteers to focus on the fundraising project and their core mission. The Community Foundation receives donor gifts, provides donor acknowledgments, and pays the expenses associated with the project.
  • Special Project Funds. From time to time there are special community projects where fundraising is required to achieve their goals. Contributions to the fund are tax deductible; the Community Foundation handles all of the financial management, donor acknowledgments, and payment of expenses. The funds are all included in the Foundation’s annual tax return and are subject to an annual professional audit. Examples include Tuesday’s Table, River Heights Community Playground, Wakanda Water Park, Menomonie Dog Park, Skate Park, the Dunn County Snow Park, the Community Garden and many others. More than $1 Million has been distributed as a result of the Community Foundation’s role in these projects.

If I change my mind about a gift, can I get my money back?

No. Gifts to the Community Foundation are irrevocable. We encourage prospective donors to discuss their intentions with their financial or legal professional advisors.

Why do donors establish funds at the Community Foundation instead of giving directly to their favorite charities?

Some donors want to provide ongoing support to a particular organization in perpetuity. They feel more comfortable making those gifts through the Community Foundation because of our permanence, professional investment management, and oversight role in making sure their wishes are met by the recipient organizations.

Can I make a gift to the Community Foundation through my will or estate plan?

Yes, we can help you and/or your professional advisors with opportunities and suggested language.

How is the Community Foundation managed?

The Community Foundation is directed by a board of directors, comprised of area professionals and interested citizens serving up to two consecutive three-year terms.  Community representatives are also appointed to the Grants and Investment Committees. Other volunteers also provide support for special projects and fundraising events. The Community Foundation has also an Executive Director and a small support staff.

Where is the Community Foundation located?

Our offices are located at 500 Main Street #322, on the third floor of the BMO Harris Bank Building (formerly known as M & I Bank) in downtown Menomonie. Visitors should use the Bank’s west entrance and free parking is available in the adjoining parking lot. Office hours are 9 am – 4 pm Monday through Thursday, closed on Friday. Other times may be scheduled by appointment.