What You Need to Know
The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee exists to build and hold a permanent and growing endowment for the community’s changing needs and opportunities, and to honor the intentions of donors who create that endowment.
Incorporated in 1991, The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee, Inc. is a qualified publicly supported charity under Internal Revenue Code Section 501(c)3 and 509(a)1 allowing us to offer tax deductions for gifts made to The Foundation, just as they would receive for gifts to other nonprofit organizations.
Since our beginning 22 years ago, The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee has grown to be one of the largest community foundations in the United States. Donors have entrusted us with 900 charitable funds, we’ve established relationships with nonprofits through the 40 counties of Middle Tennessee we serve, and we are a leader and a resource for philanthropy for individuals, companies, and families.
We encourage professional advisors access the Professional Advisor Toolkit at right, to review our Financial Policies and Investment Guidelines, and explore other information.
The following is an overview of some of the guiding principles of The Community Foundation.
THE COMMUNITY FOUNDATION INVESTMENTS
A volunteer group of qualified financial professionals makes up the Investment & Finance Committee. This group is responsible for oversight of The Foundation’s investments and investment managers, and the Committee reports to the Board of Directors on investment matters, including the acquisition, disposition, administration, and management of investments and the performance of investment managers.
The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee’s investment objectives are to maintain and increase the purchasing power of the endowment, and to produce a solid return for distribution to maximize The Foundation’s ability to meet current community needs.
When a donor makes a gift of $250,000 or more, The Foundation can offer flexible options for investment management of these funds beyond the total return strategy applied to the majority of funds held within the endowment.
Charitable funds provide resources for grantmaking and can help make a positive difference in the community. Carrying out the wishes of donors, The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee disburses grants to nonprofit organizations throughout the United States recognized as public charities exempt form income tax under Section 501(c)3 of the Internal Revenue Code. Grants provide support for the work of nonprofit organizations in areas “from arts to zoology” including but not limited to the arts, humanities, conservation, education, health, and social services.
All grants are approved by the Board, assisted by a professional program staff that reviews and evaluates all proposals.
The Board of Directors is the governing body of The Foundation responsible for administrative policy and authorization of all grants. Each of the members bring his or her own experience and background, whether in business, community service, law, education, finance, or other areas, to bear on the direction of The Foundation’s work. Their familiarity with local issues and knowledge of changing economic and social conditions sharpens their ability to function and advise Foundation staff. It is their responsibility to represent donors’ interests, to monitor grantees, and to ensure, through the years, a most advantageous application of grant dollars.
The Foundation’s spending policy sets distributions for grants at a fixed percent of the portfolio’s average market value over a prior multiple quarter period. This policy covers Unrestricted, Field-of-Interest, Designated, Agency Endowment, Affiliate, and Scholarship Funds. The policy was adopted to assure a stable and predictable flow of funds for grantmaking and operating expenses, despite market and yield volatility.
One of the distinguishing characteristics of a community foundation is its variance power. The variance power permits The Foundation to modify a restriction on a fund. This may happen when the Board of The Foundation determines that the restriction is unnecessary, incapable of fulfillment, or inconsistent with the charitable needs of the community.
Inclusion of the variance power in The Foundation’s governing documents is a requirement of the tax regulation applicable to The Foundation. Perhaps more importantly as a practical matter, the variance power allows The Foundation to take changing times into account – for instance, to modify the purpose of a fund designated to fight a disease that is then defeated, such as polio. The Foundation would only exercise the variance power with great care, giving full consideration to the original intent of the donor and attempting to arrive at the closest similar purpose.