Iowa Community Foundations are tax-exempt charitable organizations created by and for Iowa communities to give people a way to give financially to their communities. There are approximately 115 covering all parts of the state. Community foundations:
A number of public libraries already apply for grants from their community foundation. This is a good practice, but consider taking it a step further. Your library board could also establish a fund(s) within your community foundation. The potential benefits of are:
- They provide a vehicle for donations
- The library doesn’t have to go through the process and expense of establishing its own foundation
- With the competition for city funding, a community foundation fund can be a source of library funding over the long term
- Administrative services including funds management and reporting are handled for the library (Community foundations charge an administrative fee of between 1-2%.)
- Can accept a wide variety of assets, and can facilitate complex forms of giving
- Are local organizations with deep roots in the community
- Offer personalized service tailored to each individual’s charitable and financial interests.
- Help people invest in the causes they care about
For each fund there is a written agreement which states the fund’s particular purpose, who makes decisions about the fund and how the funds are disbursed. Ask about setting up your fund(s) so that the library board makes decisions about the fund and how the funds are disbursed.
Be aware that the community foundation is legally responsible for the funds and may request brief reports from the library to make sure the funds are being used in accord with the stated purpose. You will also want to keep in mind that endowed funds are intended to exist in perpetuity, and may implement an annual spend rate not to exceed 5 percent. If you are raising funds needed for a project taking place in the next few years, such as a building project, you would not want to tie up your funds in an endowed fund.
Learn more about your community foundation at http://www.iowacommunityfoundations.org