Frequently Asked Questions
What is The Catholic Foundation?
The Catholic Foundation is a charitable foundation established to serve the Catholic community by promoting Christian philanthropy. A community foundation, The Catholic Foundation offers donors highly effective investment vehicles for their charitable resources, the finest professional stewardship of those funds, optimal tax benefits, and a program of generous and responsible giving to the community that creates meaningful and lasting legacies.
What is the Foundation’s relationship to the Diocese?
The Catholic Foundation is an entirely independent entity, with its own 501(c)(3) designation, by-laws, trustees, and staff professionals. It functions, however, as an integral part of the Diocese of Dallas, indeed of the entire Catholic community, having been established by a small group of Catholic lay leaders in 1955 to create an endowment fund upon which the Catholic Diocese of Dallas could depend to generate the additional resources needed to serve its people, parishes, schools, hospitals and social service agencies. The Bishop is a member of the Board of Trustees.
Why do I need the Foundation? I already give to charity, and to my parish church.
Today’s increasingly complex tax regulations and society’s myriad needs, both human and spiritual, complicate most simple acts of charity. How can we know we’re doing what’s best for our families and for our church and our community? How can we be sure we’ve optimized the tax advantages of charitable giving? How will we know our money is invested well and used wisely? Can we be certain our charitable wishes are being honored? A charitable foundation addresses these issues – and often, several others – to maximize the effect of your generosity. If you bring the impulse to give to the table, the officers and staff of The Catholic Foundation can bring everything else – sophisticated legal and financial expertise, accountability in the charitable community, and sustainability. Plus, The Catholic Foundation offers “one-stop charitable giving,” with a variety of plans that continue current donations to your parish or Catholic school while at the same time planning for longer-term gifts and for making the Catholic community part of your will or estate plan.
Does the Foundation displace my lawyer and financial advisor?
Not at all. The Catholic Foundation works closely with all professional advisors to create only the charitable giving component of your financial and estate planning. With their knowledge and insight, we can develop a plan that it is consistent with your overall personal, financial and spiritual goals, both currently and well into the future.
What kind of “plans” are available?
As a full-service philanthropic foundation, The Catholic Foundation offers an extensive range of options, each dependent on your personal resources and unique charitable objectives.
Four distinct types of gifts are accommodated:
- An outright gift of cash or securities;
- A charitable bequest;
- A charitable gift annuity; and
- A charitable remainder or charitable lead trust.
These, in turn, can be managed in a number of ways to optimize income and/or estate tax savings, to provide a secure income, to advance particular charitable interests, and/or to build the Catholic endowment and create an enduring legacy.
Your individualized plan may be as simple as a Donor-Advised Fund, created by an outright gift to The Catholic Foundation from which charitable donations can be distributed by the Foundation in accordance with your recommendations. Or it may be as complex as a Charitable Remainder Trust, a sophisticated and flexible planning tool that combines significant tax advantages with an income stream for the donor at the same time it provides for benefits to accrue to charity.
Is The Catholic Foundation mostly for wealthy donors?
No. The Catholic Foundation hopes everyone in the Catholic community will participate in the spirit of charitable giving and realize the effectiveness and efficiencies of this trusted community foundation. Gifts of any size are welcome, and indeed, essential to the Foundation’s mission.
What if I have a family foundation already?
Private foundations and community foundations like The Catholic Foundation are not mutually exclusive; they may serve similar, although not identical purposes. But community foundations like The Catholic Foundation often afford greater tax advantages and distribution flexibility, and they assume the otherwise costly and time-consuming record-keeping and reporting responsibilities associated with private foundations. In addition, The Catholic Foundation brings a unique philanthropic focus to bear, thus providing donors with a way to build a particularly rich legacy in the Catholic community. The Catholic Foundation welcomes the opportunity to work with you, your family, and your legal and financial advisors, and to provide any of our distribution, reporting, and grant-making services either via a grant from your private foundation that establishes a philanthropic fund at The Catholic Foundation, or via a conversion of your private foundation into a fund or support organization of The Catholic Foundation.
How much does this cost?
The services of The Catholic Foundation are priced comparably to, but slightly lower than most other charitable giving investment programs in this highly competitive market. There is, however, no fee for establishing a fund at The Catholic Foundation. Donors are generally charged a very small percentage, based on the size and type of their charitable funds, for management and administration. Fees are established in consultation with the Foundation professionals as initial arrangements are made.
How can I learn more about working with The Catholic Foundation?
We encourage you to set up an appointment to discuss your particular charitable intentions with a member of our professional staff. Together with your legal and financial advisors, we will work with you and your family to develop a successful and satisfying program for your faithful philanthropy. Contact us.
How do I request that grants be made from my fund(s) at the Foundation?
A simple request in writing is all that’s required. You can make the request by mail, email, fax, or online.
What is the approval process for such grants?
The Foundation will verify that the recommended grantee is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization qualified to use the funds for the purpose requested, and that the grant has been requested by a legally designated advisor of the fund. When the Foundation approves a specific grant, funds are generally distributed within two weeks of the donor’s request.
How often can I make grant requests?
Grants requests can be submitted at any time, in any amount.
Do grant recipients have to be Catholic organizations or agencies? Do they have to be in Dallas, or in Texas?
No. All 501(c)(3) organizations are eligible for funding. Your school or university, a civic cause, a cultural institution, or any qualifying charitable organization operating in accordance with Catholic values, can be funded anywhere in the country.
Can grants be made to any individuals?
No. Only 501(c)(3) organizations are eligible.
Can I request a grant payable over more than one year?
Yes. The Foundation can honor a request that the distribution be made in increments in the amounts and at the times you specify.
Can I use the resources of my Donor Advised Fund, then, to pay off a five-year pledge to an organization’s capital campaign?
No. The Catholic Foundation cannot make grants to satisfy pledges you have made to any charity. This is because, in accordance with the IRS, when you make a contribution to a Donor Advised Fund at The Catholic Foundation you are entitled to take the full amount as a tax deduction, as you have received nothing material in return for your investment. If, however, the Foundation satisfies your pledge, you will be receiving something in return for your contribution – release from an obligation. The Foundation can make grants of certain amounts over a number of years, but not in fulfillment of any pledge or other obligation. If you have a donor advised fund, you should not sign a pledge card without first discussing your charitable commitment and wishes with a Foundation professional.
What other kinds of charitable gifts cannot be distributed by the Foundation?
Membership fees and dues, and tickets for seats or tables at charitable events are precluded from payment by the Foundation, as are contributions to political campaigns and lobbyists.
Do I get credit for grants I recommend and request be made from my fund(s) at The Catholic Foundation?
When The Catholic Foundation makes a distribution, the recipient is notified that the grant has been made from your specific fund of The Catholic Foundation. Acknowledgements are generally sent both to the Foundation and to you – to let you know that a gift was received and appreciated. The tax receipt, however, will be sent only to the Foundation, as you are not entitled to any further tax deductions, having realized the tax benefits when you established or contributed to your fund at the Foundation.
Is it possible for grants from the Foundation to be made anonymously?
Yes. Many Catholic Foundation donors choose anonymity. Simply request that neither the name of the donor nor the name of the fund be released.
Can my children participate as advisors to the fund(s) I have established?
Yes. When you establish your fund, you will name the advisors – usually your self and your spouse, and if you choose, your adult children. Many donors find their donor advised funds to be helpful tools for teaching philanthropy to their children. You can also stipulate that your children serve as advisors to the fund after your death, so as to retain your family’s participation for an additional generation.
What happens to the fund(s) when I die?
You can stipulate that your children or other successors serve as advisors to the fund following your death and throughout their lifetimes. At their deaths, the fund will become an endowment – either a permanent endowment in your family name (“The Smith Family Endowment Fund of The Catholic Foundation”) or as part of The Catholic Foundation’s Unrestricted Endowment Fund. The proceeds generated will be distributed by the Foundation in perpetuity and, to the extent possible, in accordance with your original charitable vision, i.e., if you have demonstrated a particular interest in funding Catholic schools or medical research, the Foundation will honor that intention.
How much of the money in a fund can be given away in grants to charities?
Because the Catholic Foundation can personalize every fund established – as long as compliance with all relevant IRS and state and local regulations is achieved – you will have the opportunity to determine your fund’s spending policy. You may choose to spend, or distribute, a percentage of your fund’s earnings, or a percentage of your fund’s value each year; or you may choose a policy that simply allows all of your philanthropic funds to “pass through” the Foundation en route to other charities, in which case, you could spend down the entire sum. Our donor professionals will be happy to discuss the options that will best serve your individual situation vis-à-vis your philanthropic vision, your income or tax status in any given year, and other relevant factors.
How will the money in my fund(s) be invested?
The Catholic Foundation is committed to prudent investment strategies that our trustees believe will lead to the optimal use of your fund(s) in the charitable community. We work with professional investment advisors to achieve a competitive return consistent with board policies regarding risk and return. The specific investment asset allocation will depend upon the short-term and/or long-term objectives you stipulate when you establish the fund. Detailed reports of donor funds are mailed quarterly.
How much control will I have over any charitable fund(s) I establish at The Catholic Foundation?
Legally, once you have made a contribution to The Catholic Foundation to establish a fund, you have given control for all decision-making regarding the investment and distribution of those funds to the Foundation. At the same time, however, the Foundation makes a commitment to honor your personal philanthropic intention throughout your lifetime and, should you choose, in perpetuity. Your vision, then, informs every decision our trustees make. We elicit that information at the time we establish the fund(s), and we encourage on-going communication between all donors and the Foundation so that we can help you to realize your unique charitable vision. Donors “advise” the Foundation when they make recommendations for grants to different organizations and institutions; and the Foundation makes every effort to honor that advice in its decision-making.
What impact has The Catholic Foundation had in our community?
In 2005, The Catholic Foundation celebrated 50 years of commitment to the charitable needs of our community by creating yet another gift for the people of Dallas – the Catholic Foundation Plaza, a beautifully tranquil, shaded space to rest and relax in the center of the city’s new Arts District.
This same generous spirit enhances every gift made by the Foundation in our donors’ names. It has been used to build churches and rectories, parish halls and parking garages, classrooms and gymnasiums, sanctuaries and chapels. It has helped feed, clothe, house, and train the poor for employment. It has assisted in the creation of new medical services, clinics, and hospital wings. It has taught English and helped to rebuild high schools. It has nurtured the young and the old, the spirited and the dispirited. It has manifest God’s love in the world in the many different ways our donors have envisioned over the years – with small gifts and with grants of $1 million. The Catholic Foundation distributes millions of dollars in grants to charitable organizations and institutions every year.
Primarily, the Catholic Foundation is defined by these gifts of our donors. But while we are, in fact, no greater than any one person who seeks to share his or her blessings, in the aggregate, we can, as a community foundation, become more. Joining together in this Foundation, as we combine our blessings and resources, we increase our capacity to grow and to impact the community. In addition, as funds accrue to our endowment, we enhance our ability to realize the promise of our founders: to be a sustaining resource for meeting the needs of our community for all time.
To be a part of The Catholic Foundation is to join in this generous, creative, difference-making force.