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How often can I make a grant recommendation from my fund?

Fund advisors can make grant recommendations from their fund as often as they like. Some fund advisors choose to recommend grants weekly or quarterly, while others make grants on an annual basis.

Who can make grant recommendations from my fund?

Only fund advisors listed on the original Fund Agreement are permitted to make grant recommendations from a fund. If you would like to add additional fund advisors, such as children or grandchildren, please let us know in writing.

I understand that I can make grants from my fund to charitable organizations that are recognized by the IRS as having nonprofit 501(c)(3) status. What exactly is 501(c)(3) status?

According to the IRS, an organization described as 501(c)(3) is tax-exempt and eligible to receive tax-deductible contributions. It must be organized and operated exclusively for one or more charitable purposes including: relief of the poor, the distressed, or the underprivileged; advancement of religion; advancement of education or science; erection or maintenance of public buildings, monuments, or works; lessening the burdens of government; lessening of neighborhood tensions; elimination of prejudice and discrimination; defense of human and civil rights secured by law; and combating community deterioration and juvenile delinquency. It may not engage in lobbying or other attempts to influence legislation as a substantial part of its activities and it may not be operated to benefit private interests.

Churches, schools, hospitals, and governmental units with 509(a)(1) status and public safety groups with 509(a)(4) status are also eligible for grants from donor-advised funds since both of these designations are sub-categories of 501(c)(3) status.

Is it possible to recommend a grant from my fund to an organization that has not yet obtained 501(c)(3) status?

This is not encouraged, but it is possible if the project that you wish to donate to has a fiscal sponsor who is classified as a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization. A grant can be issued to the fiscal sponsor if the fiscal sponsor understands that they, legally, have financial responsibility for the use of the funds. A letter from the fiscal sponsor’s Executive Director is usually required.

May I recommend a grant to an individual?

No. As a community foundation, The Denver Foundation may make distributions only to qualifying nonprofit organizations. Scholarships and grants made as part of achievement award programs are sometimes exceptions. Grants of this sort require a formal application and selection process. For information about scholarship or achievement award grants, please contact Karen Bellina at extension 141.

Do the guidelines for The Denver Foundation’s Community Grants Program apply to grants from my fund?

No. The guidelines for the Community Grants Program differ from guidelines for grants from donor-advised funds in many ways.

First, the Community Grants Program has a set grant application process through which nonprofits submit proposals for funding. While some donor advisors have chosen to solicit grant proposals, the majority of donor-advised funds do not accept unsolicited proposals and have no application process.

Second, the Community Grants Program is restricted to funding organizations that operate within the seven-county Metro Denver area. Donor-advised funds can recommend grants to nonprofit organizations located anywhere in Colorado, and across the country.

Third, the Community Grants Program provides grants to faith-based organizations only for programs that provide services but do not promote religious doctrine, while donor advisors frequently make unrestricted grants to churches, synagogues, and other religious institutions.

Your donor-advised fund is flexible, based on your interests and charitable goals.

Simply put, the majority of the guidelines that apply to the Foundation’s Community Grants Program do not apply to grants recommended by donor advisors. Of course, donor advisors are always welcome to fund organizations that have been thoroughly evaluated by the Foundation’s staff and been approved for funding thorough the Community Grants Program.

Can I specify exactly what I want my grant to be used for when I recommend a grant for a particular organization?

You can be as specific as you like. Simply detail your request in the ‘Purpose’ section of the Grant Recommendation Form and we will include your restrictions in the letter that is sent to the organization with their grant check, and organizations that have been thoroughly evaluated by the Foundation’s staff and been approved for funding thorough the Community Grants Program.

What are some common types of grants?

Here is a list of the most common types of grants made to nonprofit organizations:

  • General Operating Support – provides for the day-to-day costs of running the nonprofit organization.
  • Project or Program – supports a specific activity or program.
  • Endowment – increases the organization’s endowment fund.
  • Capital – provides support for the purchase of property, the construction of a facility, the remodeling/expansion of a facility, or the purchase of equipment.
  • Unrestricted – allows the nonprofit to support the organization where most needed.
  • Seed – helps to jump start a new organization, a new project, or launch a capital campaign.
  • Challenge or Matching – helps a nonprofit leverage additional dollars through a fundraising campaign.

If my fund is not designated as an Anonymous Fund, can I make a grant to a particular group anonymously?

You always have a choice about whether or not you would like to be identified as the donor of a particular grant. To give anonymously, check the anonymous box on the Grant Recommendation Form and we will remove all references to your fund in the information that the grantee receives.

I serve on the board of an organization. May I recommend a grant to this organization from my donor-advised fund (this isn’t capitalized before)?

Yes, as long as you receive no personal benefit from the grant.

Will I receive a report from each organization as to how my grant was used?

Normally, The Denver Foundation does not require organizations to submit a final report. If you would like to receive a report for a particular grant, please clearly indicate that on the Grant Recommendation Form and we will include this as a requirement of the grant in the letter that is sent to the grantee.

I am interested in a specific issue. How can I find out about organizations that are effectively addressing this issue?

The Denver Foundation has a professional staff with expertise in local nonprofit organizations. We would be happy to recommend organizations that we know are doing excellent work in the community. We can provide you with detailed descriptions and evaluations of programs along with copies of an organization’s financial records. We are happy to research the answers to any questions that you might have and arrange site visits. Site visits are an excellent way to see first hand what an organization is all about and to create a personal connection.

Why can't I make a pledge payment with a grant from my fund?

The word pledge implies a legal obligation. If you were to pay that pledge from your donor-advised fund, the IRS would see it as discharging a personal debt that you have and you would owe taxes on the value you received.

I would like to give $5,000 a year for the next 3 years to a particular agency and I would like them to know that they can count on this support. How can I do this?

You can make a multi-year grant recommendation from your donor-advised fund as long as there are sufficient funds available to cover the full amount of the grant at the time of submitting the grant to The Denver Foundation for approval. This scenario is different from a pledge because The Denver Foundation will be approving the grant. Once approved, this grant will be considered a commitment to the nonprofit organization. When you recommend the grant, please indicate both the amount and schedule of distribution. The scheduled distributions will be sent out automatically on the dates that you have determined.

May I pay for tickets to a benefit dinner or golf tournament from my donor-advised fund?

No. No portion of event expenses can be paid through your donor-advised fund. In 2006, the IRS ruled that the costs associated with fundraising events cannot be separated, and therefore, you must personally cover all of these costs (not just the “non-deductible” amount, as was allowed in the past). Please note that this process, known as bifurcation, is not permitted for attending events or for purchasing items at silent or live auctions or raffles. Thus, you will now need to cover all event-related support of charities personally and not through your donor-advised fund.

I would like to sponsor a table at an event, but I won’t be attending. May I pay for this table from my donor-advised fund?

Yes. You may pay the entire amount from your fund as long as no one will be benefiting from the donation by attending the event and sitting at this table.

I have a friend who is seeking funding for a project. Can she apply to The Denver Foundation?

While your friend could not apply to The Denver Foundation as an individual, if she works for a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization she may be able to apply to The Denver Foundation through our Community Grants Program. To qualify, an organization must serve residents in Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Broomfield, Denver, Douglas or Jefferson County and help meet a need not adequately being met by existing community resources in one of our funding areas. For more information about applying for a grant or to request a copy of our grant guidelines, please contact Bill Inama at extension 111.

The Denver Foundation also has a program called Strengthening Neighborhoods that gives small grants to groups that do not have nonprofit status in Metro Denver. For more information about this visit strengtheningneighborhoods.org.

Can I create a legacy?

Yes, and we would be honored to assist you in doing so. By establishing a fund at The Denver Foundation during your lifetime, you already have laid the groundwork for creating a permanent legacy to charity. Most often, a lasting legacy involves incorporating charitable giving into your estate plan, and our Philanthropic Services Group is here to assist you and your professional advisors with estate giving activities.

As you create your estate plan, there are many charitable giving options available to you. Some of your options include creating a Designated Fund (in which you specify a particular organization to receive an annual gift in your name), establishing a Field of Interest Fund (through which you support programs in a particular field, such as education or the arts), or building an unrestricted fund as part of our Community Endowment. The Philanthropic Services Group staff members are available to discuss vehicles such as trusts, gift annuities, bequests, IRAs, and other gift planning options with you.

Can I support the Foundation in other ways?

There are many ways to support The Denver Foundation in addition to establishing a donor-advised fund. For example:

Gifts to our Community Endowment help us annually make grants to hundreds of nonprofit organizations operating in the seven-county metro area. You can choose to give generally to the Endowment, or to specify your gift to support organizations in the areas of Arts & Culture, Civic and Education, Health, or Human Services.

Our Strengthening Neighborhoods program helps residents in Metro Denver neighborhoods working to improve their own communities. Strengthening Neighborhoods grants have helped people clean up graffiti, offer neighborhood watch programs, increase voter registration, and develop community gardens and greenbelts— among many other activities.

The Inclusiveness Project works to help Metro Denver nonprofits become more inclusive of people of color. Created at the request of the nonprofits themselves, this program is helping increase the involvement of people from diverse backgrounds as donors, board members, volunteers, and staff for organizations throughout Metro Denver.

The Critical Needs Fund provides resources to help with unanticipated or increased needs in the community that can’t be helped through our general grantmaking program.

To support any of these programs, you may make a new gift to The Denver Foundation and designate its use, or you may make a grant directly from your existing donor-advised fund.

If you have questions about gifting, please contact the Philanthropic Services Group at 303.300.1790.

If I'm interested in establishing a fund, how do I know which kind to choose?

The first priority is to determine your charitable goals. The best way to do this is to look at what you have supported in the past, what you currently support and how you would like your contributions to help the community in the future. Once you have answered these questions, The Denver Foundation staff and your financial or legal advisor can assist with recommendations about which type of fund would best suit your goals.

Is there a minimum to establish a fund?

There is no minimum to contribute to The Denver Foundation, although there are minimums to establish certain types of funds. The minimum gift to establish an immediately active donor-advised fund is $10,000. Some donors choose to grow their funds over time, but they may not issue grants until they reach the $10,000 minimum. The minimum gift to establish an immediately active Designated or Field of Interest Fund is $25,000. The minimum to establish a Supporting Organization is $1 million.

When can I give?

Donors can make gifts of any size at any time, to any fund. The Foundation also accepts gifts in memory of or in honor of an individual or special occasion.

What is a donor-advised fund grant?

A donor-advised fund grant from The Denver Foundation is a grant that was recommended by a fund holder. A donor-advised fund is a charitable giving vehicle that is administered by a third party, like a community foundation. The Denver Foundation stewards and invests donor-advised funds and accepts recommendations from the donor-advisers to support nonprofit organizations. Grants range in size and benefit a broad range of charitable causes. Grants are made only to 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations but can support work locally, nationally or internationally.

If you have received a donor-advised grant, this signifies that a donor or family who has a fund at The Denver Foundation has recommended a grant to your organization. In many cases you may not know which person or family recommended a grant to your organization. A donor-advised fund is different than a grant from the Community Grants Programs at The Denver Foundation.

Can nonprofit organizations apply for grants from donor-advised funds?

No. The Denver Foundation does not accept applications for donor-advised fund grants. Donor-advisors recommend grants to the nonprofit organizations they support.

My nonprofit organization received a grant from a donor-advised fund. How can I thank the donor-adviser and/or the family?

The Denver Foundation encourages nonprofit organizations to thank the donor or family who recommends grants to support their work, and is happy to pass on your correspondence. Please send letters of appreciation addressed to the fund, c/o The Denver Foundation, 55 Madison Street, 8th Floor, Denver, CO 80206. We will ensure that the donor receives your thank you letter, and other appropriate correspondence like final grant reports or annual reports.

My nonprofit organization received a grant from a donor-advised fund. Do I need to submit a final report?

Final reports are required for some donor-advised fund grants. If a final report is required it will stipulate that in your grant letter. Note that the final report must be sent to The Denver Foundation even if you have a relationship with the donor. The Denver Foundation will send a copy of the final report to the donor(s). We encourage you to keep a copy of the grant letter so you can refer to it to generate your final report. Final reports are generally due 12 months after a nonprofit receives the grant.

More questions? Please contact the Grants Administration Associate at 303.951.9563.

Is The Denver Foundation in compliance with National Standards for community foundations?


Confirmed in Compliance with National Standards for U.S. Community Foundations.

Please let us know if you have a question that is not addressed above; contact the Philanthropic Services Group, 303.300.1790.