Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Mercer County Civic Foundation?
The Civic Foundation is a tax-exempt organization created in 1960 to accept gifts and donations from the public, for the benefit of charitable organizations and projects in Mercer County, Ohio. Generally, these gifts establish individual ‘funds’ that are invested in a permanent endowment. The income from this endowment is returned to the community through a grant application process to approved charitable organizations. Grants are made to 501 (c)(3) non-profits, tax-exempt schools, churches and governmental entities.
How can I give to the Foundation?
- Donate to existing funds in any amount, to any fund, at anytime.
- Prepare a Will – without one, you lose control of the possessions you worked a lifetime to acquire.
- Leave a gift in your will to charities that made a difference in your life. You can name a specific amount or a percentage of your assets. Imagine the positive impact on your community if everyone made even a modest donation to his or her favorite charity.
- Consider using assets for your charitable gift, such as stocks, bonds, or CDs.
- Name the MCCF or your favorite charity as a beneficiary of your IRA.
- Purchase a new life insurance policy naming the MCCF as the beneficiary.
- Remember deceased loved ones with memorial gifts to the MCCF.
- Ask your financial advisors to include charitable giving as part of their counsel to other clients.
What types of assets can I contribute?
Each donor who establishes a fund with the Civic Foundation has different assets, charitable goals and tax concerns. With this in mind, the Foundation can handle many different forms of gifts. The Civic Foundation has written policies regarding many of the gift types discussed here. The Foundation strongly recommends that donors consult their financial and legal professionals with regard to large or unusual gifts.
Cash gifts, usually in the form of a check, come from both living donors and charitable bequests. The donor may claim a current income tax deduction of up to 50% of their Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) in the year of the gift, with a 5-year carry forward period.
Gifts of real estate include a house, personal residence, farm, commercial buildings, or land. If held for more than one year, gifts of real estate are deductible for up to 30% of the donor’s AGI in the year of the gift, with a 5-year carry-forward period if needed. For real estate held less than one year, the charitable deduction is limited to the property’s cost basis. Gifts of real estate are subject to requirements that are outlined in the Civic Foundation Gift Acceptance Policy. The Foundation will carefully review pending real estate gifts and reserves the right to decline any offers.
Publicly Traded Securities
Funds can also be established with gifts of publicly traded securities. Gifts of appreciated securities are deductible at their full market value if held longer than 12 months, and the capital gains tax on the stock’s appreciation is completely avoided. The Fair Market Value (FMV) of donated securities can be deducted up to 30% of the donor’s AGI, with a 5-year carry forward period. FMV is defined as the average of the high and low trades on the date of the gift. The Civic Foundation Stock Gift Policy outlines this procedure.
Gifts of life insurance are tremendous ways for your client to support the causes they believe in with a substantial gift to the Foundation at minimal cost. By naming the Civic Foundation owner and beneficiary of new or existing policies, a donor can make a major gift. The donor is entitled to a federal income tax deduction for the cash surrender value in the year that the gift is made.
What are the advantages to giving through the Civic Foundation?
Starting and maintaining a fund with the Civic Foundation has the following key benefits:
Flexibility – Whether donors’ charitable interests are broad or narrow, they can accomplish virtually any charitable purpose through a fund with the Foundation.
Permanence – Gifts to the Foundation usually build named endowment funds and benefit the community forever. An endowment at the Foundation can be a lasting tribute to a loved one or a favorite charity.
Donor Services – The foundation is in a unique position to assist donors with their charitable interests, providing information about the community needs/local non-profits.
Simplicity – Donors decide what, when, and how to give, and for what purpose. The Foundation takes care of the ongoing administrative and reporting details.
Local Benefit – Grants focus on needs close to home, in our local communities.
Relevance – If a gift’s purpose becomes obsolete, the Foundation Board has the legal authority to redirect the fund to the most closely related use without costly court proceedings. This ‘variance power’ is a distinguishing feature of community foundations, and gives donors added assurance that their gift will continue to serve similar needs despite changing circumstances in the community.
Tax Advantages – As a Section 501(c)(3) public charity, a community foundation offers the maximum tax benefits for charitable giving.
Security – Careful stewardship by the Foundation assures prudent management and accountability to donor’s intentions. The volunteer board sets policy and approves all grants, scholarships and student loans.
Cost Effectiveness – The Civic Foundation manages approximately 150 component funds, and has maintained lower than average management and administrative costs for a foundation of its size. This allows more money to go to charitable causes. Our investment & operating expenses have always been below 1% each year.
Recognition – Donors can choose the level of recognition they wish. Some donors enjoy having a named fund within the foundation, with public announcements about grants from their fund. Other donors prefer to remain completely anonymous. We honor those wishes.
How many funds does the Civic Foundation have?
Over 150. Each fund is individually administered according to the donor’s wishes and for accounting purposes, but all the funds are pooled together for investing purposes. Learn more about the funds here. There are 8 different kinds of funds:
Field of Interest
Who oversees the Civic Foundation?
The Board of Directors is composed of volunteers who represent the communities of Mercer County. They approve all new funds, grants, and policies/procedures for the Civic Foundation. Each person brings to the nine-member Board individual knowledge of his or her community, as well as expertise gained through business/careers. The current Board of Directors may be found on our about page.