Spokane Journal of Business

Foundation connections can leverage contributions

Nonprofits help donors strengthen communities through planned giving

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How will you ensure your legacy leaves this community a better place?

The legacy that each of us leaves isn’t entirely preplanned but written in part through our daily acts of kindness, hard work, and generosity. But these daily acts most often take place in the community where you live, work, and give to others. And we can all make plans to give back to these communities through planned giving.

Community foundations provide a way to leave a lasting legacy of ongoing support in your community. Like private foundations, community foundations offer grantmaking programs for local nonprofit organizations and scholarships for students. Unlike private foundations, however, community foundations are designated by the IRS as public charities, created in the public interest and overseen by a diverse board of directors for the sole benefit of the community.

Over 700 community foundations across the U.S. enable anyone to participate in philanthropy and serve the communities they care about – either immediately or through an estate plan.

Innovia Foundation was established in 1974 and serves as the community foundation for the Inland Northwest. The community spirit that led to a successful World’s Fair in Spokane also fueled the dedication of volunteers to grow community philanthropy in this region. Today, Innovia Foundation continues to connect the generosity of local donors and volunteers to important causes. Last year, Innovia Foundation distributed 1,281 grants totaling over $6.4 million throughout this region. These grants and scholarships are made available through more than 600 funds created to improve access to education, promote health and well-being, support arts and culture, and enhance the quality of life for this and future generations.

Nowadays, we have many opportunities to contribute to worthwhile causes. From “rounding up” at the check-out line to joining online giving campaigns, it’s not difficult to find ways to be charitable. While the process of giving is easy, understanding the importance of our donations and the impact of charitable contributions isn’t always so straightforward. The community foundation serves as a trusted connection, with a staff committed to helping answer questions and concerns while ensuring that donor dollars truly make a difference.

There are a number of important benefits to giving through a community foundation.

•Transparency: Annual reports and audits are made publicly available for all foundation activity. Administrative costs and fees are kept to a minimum and community volunteers serve on investment and grant committees providing oversight and accountability.

•Pooled investment and impact: The influence of your giving grows when combined with other generous donors. As community investments grow, the ability to create meaningful and long-lasting change in this region multiplies. Pooled investments in a community foundation also provide greater capital protection and sustained growth designed to weather market cycles.

•Greater giving options: While we often think of charitable giving in terms of cash gifts or bequests, a community foundation is in a position to accept nearly any type of charitable gift, including real estate, closely held stock, insurance, and other assets. Living donors can use various types of deferred giving vehicles and ensure that personal assets and non-cash gifts can later be employed for the benefit of the community.

•Increased visibility: Donors can establish philanthropic funds through a number of sponsoring organizations and financial service firms. A community foundation, however, provides an advantage for charitable giving – civic leadership.

Innovia Foundation aims to serve donors, nonprofit organizations, and all persons living throughout Eastern Washington and North Idaho. In the coming months, we plan to share stories of community philanthropy and charitable gifts both large and small that had an oversized impact.

The time and manner in which to consider your legacy is personal. But in an era when we think too often about community divisions, today might be an excellent opportunity to give further thought to community connections and the impact of growing charitable giving in the place we all call home.

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