1. They serve and are based in our communities.

“If you really want to give strategically, give to improve the quality of life where you spent 30 or 40 or 50 years—not just four years,” says Parkersburg Area Community Foundation executive director Judy Sjostedt. “If you’re gonna make a life here, why not improve the place where you and your children live and where your grandchildren will live?”

2. They’re playing the long haul.

By carefully managing the donors’ permanent funds, community foundations are looking at the next five decades and more. “We are institutions that are built for the long-term,” Sjostedt says. Investing in a community foundation means your donation will live on forever. The donors’ generosity provides leadership and resources to protect and propel a community. “The donor knows we’ll hold on to the corpus of the fund. We’re going to protect that for the beneficiaries for the long haul,” says Eastern West Virginia Community Foundation executive director Michael Whalton.

3. Managing money securely and wisely is what they do best.

It takes a lot of work to manage a multimillion-dollar gift or estate—so much work that, for a local nonprofit, church, or community, that kind of money can be more of a burden than a blessing.

But community foundations can help. They’re experts at wisely managing money, handling all the necessary paperwork, and making grants when a need arises. “Stewarding the gift is our expertise, and making sure we meet those donors’ goals,” says Community Foundation for the Ohio Valley executive director Susie Nelson. Whalton agrees, “If you want the organization to succeed forever, give to the community foundation and create a ‘field of interest fund’ that’s targeted toward the type of charitable cause you want to support. We’ll make grants forever from that fund.”

4. They’re adaptable in supporting your interests.

As communities and citizens evolve, charitable needs can change over time from when a will is first drawn up or gift is made. This is a challenge for independent charitable trusts—to change the way one works, lawyers and judges have to get involved. Things can get messy and costly.

But community foundations are able to adapt to the changing needs of the people they serve while carry on your interests for generations to come. The flexibility also ensures the longevity of the gift. Whalton shares that his foundation once received a gift to support an organization for people with developmental disabilities.

After a few years, the organization went bankrupt, but the donor’s gift agreement was flexible enough to allow the foundation to adjust the money to other similar organizations. Eventually the original organization was revived—and the foundation was able to start making grants again. Community foundations build thriving communities by providing easy and flexible ways for local donors to make their charitable investments.

Want to support your local community?

The starting points in working with your local community foundation are:

Think about how you’d like to help. Are you interested in revitalizing your downtown? Advancing entrepreneurs? Improving education? Advancing women and minority leadership? You can set up a fund to specifically address those causes and more. For the general good of the community, donors can setup unrestricted funds—allowing community foundations to use the money for the community’s greatest need.

Talk to your local community foundation. Since charitable giving and serving communities are what they do best, leaders at West Virginia’s community foundation can help you explore all of your options for your annual giving and estate plans.

Plan Today, Give Forever.

Talk to a lawyer or estate planner to get everything properly set up. Using the information gained from conversations with your community foundation, outline out how you want your donation to be used. This lets the community foundation know exactly how to manage your assets and you can be confident your final wishes will be carried out as you planned.