What is the Community Foundation?

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Community Foundations are tax-exempt public charities organized and operated as a permanent collection of endowed funds for the long-term benefit of a defined geographic area. They are designated “public charities” rather than “private foundations” by the IRS because they raise a significant portion of their resources from a broad cross-section of the public each year. Donors to community foundations are from diverse backgrounds with a common commitment to their communities’ well-being.

Each community foundation has its own character, but they all share common traits:

  • A mission to enrich the quality of life in a defined geographic area;
  • A focus on building permanent endowments with as few restrictions as possible an independent local volunteer governing body that knows about and generally represents the community; and
  • Accountability to the public and an openness to its broad participation.
  • Service to three primary constituencies:
    Donors – as a partner for giving and a resource for information about local needs.
    Charitable Organizations – as a source of grants and technical assistance, and as a guardian of nonprofit endowments.
    The Community at large – as a force committed to helping their communities thrive over the long term.

What the Community Foundation Offers

Of the more than 850 community foundations in the country, 17 of them are located in Connecticut. Some cover geographic regions with multiple communities and others support one community. The Community Foundation of Middlesex County is the only Community Foundation serving the towns of Middlesex County.

Frequently Asked Questions

An endowment is a type of fund. These funds are established to produce income for charitable purposes while protecting the principal in perpetuity. The principal is maintained to ensure that the endowment funds remain permanent as long as the principal is never invaded and will provide support for the community forever. Endowment funds (or endowed funds) typically distribute a percentage of income generated from investments. The percent distributed annually is determined by the Board of Directors.

Some donors prefer to see a greater percentage of their gift distributed annually. This type of fund is an unendowed fund and typically is not invested.

Grants are made from the funds that donors have established. Some funds, unrestricted and field of interest funds, are established as part of the pool of funds used at the discretion of the Community Foundation to support nonprofit organizations in Middlesex County. Other funds are established as donor advised funds, and donors make grant recommendations to the Community Foundation throughout the year. These recommendations may support nonprofit organizations in Middlesex County, but donors may also choose to support organizations serving other communities. At the Community Foundation of Middlesex County, grants awarded through field of interest funds and unrestricted funds support a broad array of local nonprofits that work in the areas of arts and culture, community development and outreach, education, health and human services, public benefit and social services, the environment, and animal welfare.

You can certainly give directly to the nonprofit or cause of your choice, and the Community Foundation can help with that.

Community foundations are committed to meeting current needs of the local community as well as future needs. By giving to the Community Foundation of Middlesex County, you guarantee that the causes you care about will be provided for today, tomorrow, and for generations to come. The expertise of the Community Foundation’s staff and Board of Directors ensures that your donation is pooled with those of your neighbors and colleagues and has an impact on the quality of life in Middlesex County.

Community foundations are a funder of local nonprofits. Through the generosity of our community, the Community Foundation is able to help organizations provide programs and services through grant awards and other resources. The Community Foundation of Middlesex County is committed to “connecting the dots” – identifying needs and issues within the community, using our network to connect with nonprofit organizations providing those services and programs, and collaborating on ways to aid our community in ensuring our neighbors thrive.

Most nonprofit organizations have very specific missions, whereas the mission of the Community Foundation is very broad – to connect people with the causes they care about. This allows the Community Foundation to serve a wide group of people and organizations and reflects our ability to provide support, both financial and other resources, to the benefit of the community as a whole.

The Community Foundation’s operating expenses are covered in two ways, through a small fee to each fund and through direct donations by individuals, families, businesses, and organizations to the Community Foundation Fund. Donors who contribute directly to the Community Foundation’s operations are directly involved in all our work – they touch every grant, every workshop, every community outreach event.

  • Local impact: when you give to the Community Foundation, you are supporting your community and the local causes you care about.
  • Local expertise: our staff is dedicated to our community. We research local issues and needs and develop relationships with local nonprofits to better inform our work and your passions for your community. Our Board of Directors and Committees are made up of knowledgeable community members and volunteers, like you, who are committed to ensuring our community thrives.
  • Personalized Service: we meet with you individually or with your financial advisor to discuss your charitable interests and how we can best support you in fulfilling those interests. You choose what to give, when to give, and what causes or organizations you wish to support. You can be as involved in your charitable giving as you choose.
  • Immediate and Long-Term Impact: the Community Foundation is committed to the stewardship of our funds to ensure that the charitable goals of donors are met now and forever.
  • Privacy: you decide when or if you want to be recognized for your gift or remain anonymous. You can feel secure in knowing that your personal information will never be disclosed.
  • Tax Advantages: the Community Foundation is a public charity, and donations qualify for the maximum available deduction for charitable contributions in the year when the gift is made.

Who We Serve

We welcome donations from everyone who wishes to support our mission. Our competitive grantmaking focuses on building a better Middlesex County.

Communities we support:

  • Centerbrook
  • Chester
  • Clinton
  • Cobalt
  • Cromwell
  • Deep River
  • Durham
  • East Haddam
  • East Hampton
  • Essex
  • Haddam
  • Haddam Neck
  • Higganum
  • Ivoryton
  • Killingworth
  • Middle Haddam
  • Middlefield
  • Middletown
  • Moodus
  • Old Saybrook
  • Portland
  • Rockfall
  • Westbrook
  • Winthrop

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Have more questions? Interested in learning more? We welcome conversations with Good People Doing Great Things.

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