All research on this page is prepared by the Community Foundation Research and Training Institute.  We welcome your comments.  Also, if you have an idea for a future research topic you would like us to pursue, please let us know.

Initial Data Shows Dip in Charitable Giving Under New Tax Legislation

Early data is in, and it confirms what the academic research had projected: Charitable giving weakened thanks to the provisions of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. We’ve taken a look at the data; you can read our research here.

This report was published by David Bennett on September 3, 2019.

Unrelated Business Income Taxes on Free Parking for Community Foundation Staff

Here’s our research on the provision of the Tax Cut and Jobs Act of 2017 which could cause a charitable organization to pay taxes on free parking provided to employees. Much of this information is based on guidance recently issued by the Internal Revenue Service. To read the guidance memo from the IRS, click here. To read our summary of how this might effect your community foundation (and any nonprofit organization), click here.

Please note: We are aware that legislation has been introduced which may repeal some or all of these new provisions. You should check with your tax advisors before taking any action relative to these new provisions.

This report was published by David Bennett on November 13, 2018

Census of US-Based Community Foundations for 2016 Released

We have finally (whew!) released the Community Foundation Census for 2016. In it, we summarize three years of asset levels for all US-based community foundations.

How many community foundations are there in the United States? We think there are 866. The census provides aggregate three-year data on asset levels, gifts received, and grants disbursed. Data is sorted by asset levels, and also alphabetically.

Now that the database is complete, we expect to release more reports in the near future on growth rates of community foundations, observations on gifts received and grants disbursed, the prevalence of donor advised funds, and other reports we hope you will find useful.

To read the 2016 Community Foundation Census, click here.

Partnering with Donor Advised Funds

Community foundations have become experts at identifying important community needs, vetting the charitable organizations which effectively address those needs, and providing grants to those charities.  Yet with rare exceptions, the financial support that a community foundation can provide will fall short of the amount needed to adequately address the problem. 

At the same time, donor advised funds are often the fastest-growing asset category in most community foundations.  Advisors to those funds often come to the foundation knowing the organizations they wish to support.  Those donor advised grants may or may not coincide with the issues supported by the community foundation’s other funds. 

If donor advisors can come alongside the unrestricted grantmaking of a community foundation, more resources can be applied to implement solutions. But how can a community foundation build these philanthropic partnerships? The question, then, is this: What can be done to more closely align grants from donor advised funds with the community needs identified in a community foundation’s unrestricted grantmaking program?

This report was published by David Bennett in September, 2018.

To read the report, click here.

Is The Estate Tax Dead?

Legislative changes in the last ten years have dramatically reduced the number of estates required to file an estate tax return.  This is crucially important for the charitable sector, as for many years the inclusion of a charitable bequest in an estate plan was a great way to reduce the estate tax liability. 

This research looks at filing data for the federal estate tax, and concludes that due to increases in the number of "mega-estates" (those with a value in excess of $10 million), the use of charitable gifts in an estate plan can still be an effective way to lower taxes owed with an estate.

This report was published by David Bennett in July, 2018.

To read the report, click here.

Who Leaves a Charitable Bequest?

Gifts in estate plans are the lifeblood of growth for community foundations.  But who actually puts charitable bequests in their will?  This research shares information on the types of donors who would be more likely to leave a gift to charity in their estate plan.

This report was published by David Bennett in June, 2018.  Special thanks to Jon Bates, President of the Community Foundation of Northern Illinois, for finding an error in the first report I posted.  That error has been corrected in this report.

To read the report, click here.

Community Foundation Boards:  Is There an Optimal Size?

What's the best number of members for effective governance by a community foundation board?   This research report provides information on current board membership, as well as arguments for and against larger or smaller board sizes.

This report was published by David Bennett in May, 2018.

To read the report, click here.

Community Foundation Staffing Patterns

How do staffing levels change as a community foundation grows?  We looked at Form 990 data for over 800 community foundations to try to discern some common patterns.

This report was published by David Bennett in April, 2018

To read the report, click here.

Census of Community Foundations - 2015

Just how many community foundations are there, and what are their characteristics?  That's a question that has eluded researchers for many years.

In this summary of all US-based community foundations, we provide the most complete census of community foundations ever conducted.  We analyze assets, gifts and grants, donor advised funds, board membership and staffing levels.

This report was published by David Bennett in January, 2018.

To read the report, click here.

Community Foundation Tax Credits

Some states offer individuals and corporations a credit on their state income tax liability for certain gifts to community foundations.  This report examines community foundation tax credits currently offered, and their effect on charitable gifts.

This report provides information on community foundation tax credits available on the state level as of March, 2018.

This report was published by David Bennett in March 2018 and we believe it to be accurate based on information available at that time.  Laws regularly change, however, so you should seek the most current information on relevant laws in your state.

To read the report, click here.

Community Foundations and Donor Advised Funds

How important are donor advised funds to community foundations?  Using Form 990 data, this report provides a summary of the utilization of donor advised funds by community foundations, and the share of community foundation gifts, grants and assets that can be attributed to these types of funds.

This report utilizes Form 990 data through fiscal years ending in 2015.  When data for fiscal years ending in 2016 becomes available, this report will be updated.

This report was created by David Bennett in November, 2017.

To read the report, click here.