FAQs


What is the Greater Lowell Community Foundation (GLCF)?
The GLCF is a regional partner in philanthropy for individuals, families, foundations and corporations and nonprofits serving Greater Lowell and communities in the Merrimack Valley. The Foundation also serves as a major grant maker, civic leader, information provider, community and non-profit advocate and convener, and a sponsor of special initiatives that benefit the communities we service.

What is an Endowment?
The commonly accepted meaning for endowment is a fund which is kept in perpetuity to provide interest and dividend earnings for the benefit of an organization's charitable cause. While the GLCF holds income-only endowments, it typically spends between 3 to 5% of income and principal to insure payouts to nonprofit agencies and other charitable beneficiaries during both good financial times and bad, and relies on growing values over the long term to provide perpetual support for its beneficiaries.

How can I create a fund?
Creating a fund at The Greater Lowell Community Foundation is easy and straightforward. As a donor, you have considerable flexibility in deciding how your fund will be managed to meet your charitable goals. The Foundation can provide a simple agreement letter that you should then review with your own attorney or financial advisor. Please contact us to learn about all the options available to you.

What's the best time to give?
You may create a fund at any time during your lifetime, or through a will or trust arrangement that benefits both your family and your charity. Tax deductions are earned at the time of the gift, while grant making from your fund continues into the future.

How should I name my fund?
You may name the fund after yourself or your family, or create a memorial to someone special. Every grant made from the fund will carry the name you choose. If you prefer anonymity, you can choose a name that reflects your fund's charitable purposes.

What are the types of charitable fund options available to me?

  • Discretionary Funds: These funds strengthen nonprofit organizations through competitive grants recommended by its Distribution Committee, which is composed of community members from all walks of life. Discretionary funds can address unforeseen needs, emergencies and new challenges.
  • Donor Advised Fund: Donors who wish to be actively involved prefer this fund, as advisors and their family members make grant recommendations. Through the creation of a donor advised fund, you can organize all your charitable activities through one expertly-managed and cost-effective charitable vehicle. Your gift qualifies for an immediate tax deduction, and you can take your time deciding which organizations to recommend for grants.
  • Field of Interest Fund: This fund reflects a donor's, or group of donors', general interests and concerns and supports organizations accordingly. For example, recipients may be a town's civic activities, the arts, economic development, youth, the environment, human services or other causes or goals important to the donors.
  • Scholarship Fund: This fund can support a wide variety of educational needs and honor a family member, educational leader or friend.

  • Nonprofit agency Fund: These funds help nonprofit organizations stabilize and secure the future of their services. An Agency Endowment Fund ensures that bequests or gifts benefit one specific nonprofit organization, while Designated Funds benefit two or more organizations. The Community Foundation's staff is available to help organizations build these endowments by offering expert advice to Boards, staff and potential supporters.

What kinds of assets can be used to create a fund?
You can use almost any financial asset to start a fund, including cash, publicly-traded securities, qualified retirement plans and insurance policies. Real estate and tangible personal property may also be used to establish a fund with prior approval from the GLCF Board of Directors. Gifts of long-term appreciated property earn tax deductions for their full market value, while eliminating any tax on the capital gains.

How much does it cost to establish a fund at The Greater Lowell Community Foundation?
It costs nothing to set up a fund. The donor or contributing agency signs a fund agreement provided by the Foundation, therefore no legal fees are involved. Each fund held by the Foundation is subject to two fees:

  • Administrative Fee: An annualized administrative fee of 1.25% is assessed to the total market fund value on the last day of each quarter. The administrative fee is set by the Board of Directors and is used by The Greater Lowell Community Foundation to support its administration and programs.

  • Investment Management Fee: Each fund is subject to a fee for custody of assets and investment management. These fees are based on the market value of the funds under management. We have an agreement with all of our financial advisors that the fees will not exceed 50 basis points.

Is there a minimum gift to start a fund?
An initial gift of $5,000 is needed for a named, endowment fund. Smaller gifts can be made to start the fund with a plan to reach the $5,000 minimum within three years.

Can I work with the Greater Lowell Community Foundation through my financial advisor, attorney, or accountant?
We welcome working with your advisors as the Foundation works with professional advisors every day, helping them to meet their clients' charitable goals.

How will an advised fund be invested?
The Greater Lowell Community Foundation has a number of investment funds, which are managed by Enterprise Bank, Eagle Claw Capital Management, RBC Wealth Management and UBS. Please contact us if you would like to receive a copy of our investment objectives and guidelines policy.

I want to make grants in the areas I care about most, but I'm not sure which organizations to support. Can the Foundation help me?
Yes. The Foundation has developed relationships with most nonprofit organizations in our area and is aware of the needs of the communities we serve. We can provide you with detailed information, and help identify the programs that are really working in the areas of greatest importance to you. Contact us to learn about opportunities to make strategic contributions to well-defined programs in concert with the Greater Lowell Community Foundation.

Can grants through my Donor Advised Fund go to organizations outside of Merrimack Valley?
Yes. Grants may go to qualified public charities anywhere in the country or around the world.

What are the differences between a Donor Advised fund at the Foundation and one at a commercially sponsored gift fund?
Although these products are similar in function, the Greater Lowell Community Foundation offers several advantages over commercially sponsored gift funds.

  • As an actively involved community leader, the Greater Lowell Community Foundation has detailed, relationship-based knowledge of the nonprofit organizations in the communities we serve.
  • Philanthropy and the support of area nonprofits is GLCF's only business, consequently its sole focus is on making a difference in our community and with our donors.
  • An investment in GLCF is an investment in the betterment of your community.

Is there a limit to how many grants I can recommend in a year through my Donor Advised Fund?
No. In addition, there is no processing fee per grant; however, we recommend each grant created, and awarded, should be at least $250.

Can I involve family members and colleagues in a Donor Advised Fund?
Anyone can make a contribution to a Donor Advised Fund, and new Fund Advisors can be added at any time, offering family members, and others, the opportunity for direct involvement.

Can my children become advisors to the advised fund upon my death?
Yes. A donor can name any successor as an advisor to an advised fund at any point in time. If no successor advisors are named, the remaining balance of the fund is added to the Foundations discretionary fund upon the death of the sole remaining advisor.

Are third party contributions to my Donor Advised Fund tax deductible?
Yes. Anyone can make a contribution to your Donor Advised Fund and receive tax benefits.

Can I name a successor advisor to my Donor Advised Fund?
Yes. In fact all Fund Advisors are encouraged to do so. If desired, Greater Lowell Community Foundation staff will also consult with you to create succession plans aligned with your charitable giving goals and designed to continue your legacy of giving.

Can my giving be anonymous?
Yes. If desired, your anonymity will be maintained permanently or can be customized for each grant you make. Additionally, Donor Advised Funds offer the advantage of privacy from the public.

Can I make a gift at my death of my retirement plan assets, such as an IRA?
Yes. The full value of these assets will pass tax-free to a fund of your choice at the Foundation and result in a full charitable deduction for your estate.

Can I make a gift of a life insurance policy to the Greater Lowell Community Foundation?
Yes. You can name the Greater Lowell Community Foundation as the beneficiary of one or more life insurance policies. In addition, you can irrevocably designate the GLCF as both the owner and beneficiary of a paid-up insurance policy. In this case, you will receive an income tax charitable deduction equal to the lesser of the replacement value or cost basis of the policy.

©2009 Greater Lowell Community Foundation - 100 Merrimack Street, Suite 202, Lowell, MA 01852          Phone: 978-970-1600        Fax: 978-970-2444          National Standards