Frequently Asked Questions
The Community Foundation was created by the communities of northeast Michigan for the long-term benefit of those communities. It is a charitable organization that is dedicated to making it as easy as possible for those who want to make lasting contributions to their community to do so. By wisely investing donated funds, CFNEM can increase the impact of initial gifts and provide ongoing support to donor-designated community nonprofits and programs, scholarships for students and nonprofit grantees.
The Community Foundation accepts and receives gifts for the community's endowment. It is the income from this endowment that is returned to the communities we serve each year in the form of grants. In essence, each contribution is a legacy to future generations because income is distributed year after year for generations to come.
What is the Community Foundation for Northeast Michigan?
- An independent, non-sectarian granting organization that funds other nonprofits' programs and services through an application process.
- A "collection" of permanent endowments designed to achieve our donors' individualized charitable goals through one simple vehicle.
- A nonprofit, tax exempt organization under section 501(c)(3) of the IRS.
- An organization that is publicly supported by many unrelated donors, and supports broad-based charitable interests.
What is the geographic region served by CFNEM?
The Community Foundation for Northeast Michigan (CFNEM), the lead foundation, serves the counties of Alcona, Alpena, Montmorency, and Presque Isle. However, in order to serve our neighboring counties that were not previously being served by a community foundation, CFNEM created three affiliates. They are: North Central Michigan Community Foundation (NCMCF), which serves Crawford, Ogemaw, and Oscoda Counties; Straits Area Community Foundation (SACF), which serves Cheboygan County and Mackinaw City; and Iosco County Community Foundation (ICCF), which serves all of Iosco County. All these assets together make up the Community Foundation for Northeast Michigan.
What is a permanent endowment?
In general, contributions made to the Community Foundation are not spent -- they are invested for growth. Five percent of the fund's assets, averaged over 12 rolling quarters, are available for spending. As the corpus grows, so too does the amount available to spend or grant.
What is a non-permanent fund?
By agreement, both principal and income may be expended (also sometimes called a "principal and income fund"). A non-permanent fund, however, does not appreciate at the same rate as a permanent fund and the tax benefits are not as great.
What are the Community Foundation's assets?
The Community Foundation's assets, which include the assets of the lead foundation and each of the three affiliates, were $66,334,777 at the end of our 2021 fiscal year, September 30, 2021.
Where/How is the money invested?
The Community Foundation is invested through the Iles Group of Merrill Lynch.
How do I obtain financial information?
An independent audit is conducted yearly, and the IRS Form 990, audited financial statements, and specific investment management details are available upon request.
Who may the Community Foundation grant money to?
501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations, and tax exempt schools, churches, and governmental entities.
How much does the Community Foundation give away each year?
This number grows as the value and number of endowments grow, but current annual granting is over $2 million.
How does the Community Foundation secure operating funds?
The Community Foundation charges fees from its funds. The fees range from 1.35% to 2% of a fund's assets, calculated annually on a 12-quarter rolling average.
How many funds does the Community Foundation currently have?
At the end of the 2021 fiscal year, September 30, 2021, the Community Foundation had over 530 funds, with new funds established on a regular basis.
Is the Community Foundation in competition with other nonprofits?
No, we are a resource for them. We hold many of their endowment funds, work to develop their assets, and make grants to their institutions.
How does the Community Foundation differ from a private foundation?
We derive our assets from many donors rather than one, have broad charitable purposes and a demographically diverse, non-compensated Board of Trustees. Because we are a public charity, we receive more favorable tax treatment, do not pay excise taxes on income, and have more flexibility in our operating ability.
Who establishes funds in a community foundation?
Groups with a Common Purpose
What kind of funds may be established?
Agency (nonprofit organization) Funds
Donor Designed Funds
Donor Advised Funds
Field of Interest Funds
To whom do the fund assets belong and under whose control is the distributions of funds?
Fund contributions become assets of the Community Foundation and, as such, are under the control of the Board of Trustees. The Community Foundation is organized for charitable purposes and should not be confused with a bank or an investment service. Fund distributions receive Board approval and, except in extraordinary circumstances, the principal of a permanently endowed fund is not invaded.
What services does the Community Foundation provide to donor/funds?
Management and investment of dollars
Annual financial reports to donors - semi-annually or quarterly upon request
Assistance with staffing of advisory committees
Handling all governmental reporting requirements
Facilitating the grants program and ensuring accountability
Acknowledging and receipting contributions
Fund stewardship and audit services
Providing planned giving expertise
Public relations and marketing initiatives
How long has the Community Foundation been in existence?
The Community Foundation was established in 1974.
What is a YAC?
In addition to the hallmark functions of grantmaking, donor services, and community leadership, the Community Foundation is committed to building a stronger community through youth development. We take particular pride in our YAC (Youth Advisory Council) -- a youth advisory committee to the Board of Trustees. These young people, ranging in age from 12 to 21, represent all the school districts in our service area. They are committed to community service, philanthropy, and volunteerism.