Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are the frequently asked questions that we hear most from donors and clients. If you don’t see your question here, please contact us.

What is a community foundation?
A community foundation is a tax exempt nonprofit organization supported by the public and through philanthropy. The long-term goal of a community foundation is to build permanent funds for the broader public benefit of the residents in the foundation’s area.

How do community foundations work?
A community foundation is overseen by a board of directors made up of community leaders. There is also a small staff for administration purposes. Operating expenses are normally paid for by gifts designated by donors to cover foundation operating and program costs and through community support generated by annual fundraising appeals.

Are there other community foundations in Massachusetts?
Yes. All community foundations are independently organized and operated, but there are over a dozen of us in Massachusetts alone. Just as we serve many towns in the Merrimack Valley region, each community foundation is defined by serving a specific geographic area.

How do community foundations differ from private foundations?
Community foundations are supported by broad groups of unrelated individuals, families, corporations, and institutions. The only thing that connects all of our donors is a desire to improve their community. It is due to this broad support base that community foundations are classified as publically supported charities by the IRS, giving community foundations tax advantages that are not available to private foundations. Community foundations are also allowed to treat funds within their control as part of a single corporation, giving them both administrative and investment-related advantages over private foundations as well.

How do community foundations differ from other nonprofit organizations?
Most nonprofit organizations have one specific mission, while the mission of a community foundation is the broader goal of improving quality of life in a given area. This flexibility allows community foundations to serve a wider group of potential donors as well as a wider group of the nonprofits we consider our partners in improving our community.

How can I find out more about community foundations?
If you want to know more, information about community foundations is just a few clicks away on the web. Community foundations throughout history have been some of the most innovative and progressive grant-making institutions in the country, and many modern foundations have taken full advantage of the Internet’s possibilities. You can also always contact us for more information.

What is the history of the Greater Lowell Community Foundation?
Since its inception in 1997, the Greater Lowell Community Foundation has maintained the clear mission to improve the quality of life for the people in the communities we serve by connecting caring donors with local nonprofit organizations that best serve the causes that matter most to them.

Through well-planned charitable gifts, grants, legacy donations and scholarships, we help private and corporate donors make a more lasting difference on the quality of life in our community.

For 20 years, the people and businesses of Greater Lowell have trusted the Foundation to provide leadership, education and financial support through our vast donor network to effectively address social, educational, economic, environmental and cultural needs of our communities. Today, we are the leading charitable organization in the Greater Lowell/Merrimack Valley area providing these critical services to support our regional nonprofit organizations, community groups and area students through academic scholarships and charitable foundations.

How does the area benefit from having a local community foundation?
Our community foundation offers many benefits to our local area. We help raise the level of local giving, and through this help keep charitable dollars in our own community. By endowing gifts, donors are ensuring that the community will be supported forever. We also help to ensure that endowment gifts given to our community are effective and relevant.

How does a community foundation invest its funds?
The community foundation will adhere to an investment policy established and approved by the Board of Directors. You can read more about our investment policies by clicking here.

What are the tax advantages of donating?
Community foundations can offer greater tax advantages than private foundations.

Who are the current board members?
A list of our current board members can be found by clicking here.