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Frequently Asked Questions by Our Donors

Suggesting a Grant

How do I suggest a grant?

You can let us know which nonprofits you would like to support in one of three ways:

  • Send them in writing, using this form, to The New York Community Trust, 909 Third Avenue, New York NY 10022
  • Fax them to 212-532-8528, Attn: Donor Relations
  • Use our online service for donors, MyNYCT

You can download a Grant Suggestion form or request one from our donor department at (212) 686-0010 x353.

What does The Trust do with my suggestion?

We ensure that the charities suggested are recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as tax-exempt and that they meet our standards for responsible management and effective programs.

What information do I need to include with my suggestion?

The name and address of the charity, the amount of the proposed grant ($250 or more), and its purpose (general support or a specific project). Including a contact person at the charity is also helpful to us.

If you would like us to send a copy of the check to someone besides the advisors of the fund, please send us their name and address.

Do I have to make grant suggestions?

Yes. You set up the fund to benefit charity. If you don't make any recommendations for more than a year, we'll remind you. We also understand that some donors want to accumulate income over several years in order to make a large grant, and, to the extent permitted by law, we work to accommodate them.

Can The Trust help me identify possible grantees?

Yes. There are many effective nonprofits in the New York City area, and choosing among them can be difficult. We hope that our grants newsletters, annual reports, and occasional papers on special topics sent to donors expand your knowledge of philanthropy. Our grantmaking staff is among the best in its field and can identify priority needs, suggest charitable organizations, and provide information to help you make an informed decision. For further help, please contact Bob Edgar or Gay Young at (212) 686-0010 x377.

Am I the only person who can make grant suggestions?

No. As the founder of the fund, you can name other peoplerelatives, friends, or business associatesas advisors to suggest grants from your fund. If you would like to add or remove an advisor from your account, please fill out this nomination form and e-mail or mail it to us at our regular mailing address. Read more about adding or removing an advisor.

Can I add or remove a fund advisor?

Yes. If you are the founder of the fund, please fill out this nomination form and mail or e-mail it to us.

May I change the name of my fund?

Yes, if you are the founder, you can do so by sending us a letter requesting the name change.

May I use my fund to pay for the charitable portion of a membership at my local museum?

No, grants from donor-advised funds may only be used for charitable purposes. Our policy is based on the advice of our legal counsel (and the Council on Foundations’ legal counsel).  We have been advised that until the IRS issues rules saying otherwise donors may not receive more than an incidental benefit as the result of a distribution from a donor advised fund. Split payments (bifurcation), where the donor individually pays the non-charitable portion and the charitable portion is paid out of a donor advised fund, are not permitted. This means that our grants may not be used to pay, for example, dues, memberships, the charitable portion of a ticket to a charitable event, for goods bought at charitable auctions, or a donor’s legally enforceable pledge. When we learn that our grant has been misused, we contact the donor and ask that the entire grant be refunded.

Is there a minimum amount for a grant recommendation?

Yes, there is a minimum of $250.

Managing Your Fund

How long does it take to issue a check?

Assuming there are funds available to make the grant, and if an organization is already in our database of approved charities, a check will generally be sent within seven to ten days. If we need to review the charity to make sure it meets our standards, it may take two to six weeks. There are rare instances in which it takes longer than six weeks to make a grant.

Will the nonprofit know the grant is from my fund?

Yes, unless you don't want it to. A voucher accompanies each check and notes the name of the fund from which the grant was made, and states that the grant was "made at the suggestion of [name]." If you would like the gift to be anonymous, please let us know.

May I have fundraising events to increase the size of my fund?

This is a trickier question than it may seem. You may not legally use our name to publicly solicit funds (in which case you are acting as an unauthorized "agent" of The Trust). Nor can we pay expenses of a fundraiser you host in order to raise money for your fund. However, you certainly can ask friends to contribute to your fund (say, in lieu of a Christmas present to you, or in honor of your birthday).

Will I get a receipt for tax purposes?

Absolutely. What's often convenient for some donors is that we keep copies of our acknowledgements. When tax time rolls around and you can't find your original, we'll send you a copy.

What kind of assets may I use to open a fund?

Funds may be established with the following: cash, securities traded on major exchanges, closely held stock, mutual fund shares, retirement plan assets, interests in limited partnerships, literature copyrights, and movie and television rights. We are skilled at evaluating unusual assets and have the flexibility to accommodate them when suitable for charity.

How do I add to my fund?

If you want to give cash, make your check payable to "Community Funds, Inc." and write the name of the fund on the memo portion of the check. If you would prefer giving via cash wire transfer, please contact Raymond Salibur at (212) 686-0010 x455 for instructions.

Appreciated securities
Many donors prefer to contribute appreciated securities (since you receive the deduction for the current value, and pay no capital gains). If that's the case, please download this form that explains the procedure for giving securities. 

Non-publicly traded securities
Non-publicly traded securities may also be appropriate gifts. For these, please contact our counsel, Jane Wilton, at (212) 686 - 2563. She can determine whether we can accept the gift and walk you through the process.

Leaving a Legacy

How can I create a permanent legacy?

There are three ways to create a permanent endowment:

  • You can leave principal in your donor-advised fund
  • You can add to your fund by bequest
  • You can create a fund by bequest

For more information, please visit: Giving Today, Build for Tomorrow

How can I learn more about leaving a legacy?

Find out more about funding the future:

How do you distribute unrestricted funds?



In accordance with the “Resolution and Declaration of Trust Creating ‘The New York Community Trust’” and the Certificate of Incorporation of Community Funds, Inc., and with §1.507-2(a)(8)(iv)(A)(2)(ii) of Federal Income Tax Regulations, the Distribution Committee of The New York Community Trust and the Board of Directors of Community Funds, Inc., hereby promulgate the following guidelines enumerating specific charitable needs consistent with the charitable purposes of the organizations.

The Trust seeks to strengthen families, develop youth, build community, meet basic human needs, and promote multicultural understanding. To carry out this mission, five areas of activity have been identified by our governing board and are summarized below.

Children, Youth, and Families.
People are having difficulty paying for food, just as the rising cost of food and the drop-off in donations are resulting in empty emergency food pantries. Workers who are laid off also lose their health insurance. Households that have never sought government assistance before now need help to pay for necessities such as food and rent, resolve bankruptcies, fight debt collection agencies, and apply for unemployment insurance. We work in partnership with government and private agencies to develop the strength of families and young people, to help the poor become more self-sufficient, to protect the most vulnerable children, to improve policy and services, and to build the capacity of nonprofit advocacy and service agencies.  We plan to spend about 20 to 25 percent of our total budget in this area.

Community Development and the Environment.
Stable neighborhoods, a vital business community, decent shelter, and a healthy environment are basic requirements for a livable city.  The Trust focuses on rebuilding and stabilizing New York’s low-income neighborhoods and protecting the environment.  We support community agencies working on these issues at the neighborhood level, and government and nonprofit institutions developing strategies for the City as a whole.  Our concern for the environment is not only local, but also national and international in scope. To underpin these and all our programs, we support efforts to improve the functioning of nonprofits and government.  We estimate that 20 to 25 percent of our grant funds will be spent in this area.

Education, Arts, and the Humanities.
Strong systems of education and justice and vibrant cultural and religious institutions are the hallmarks of a civilized society.  As the City’s economy falters, cultural institutions, a key draw for tourist dollars, also suffer.  We concentrate on projects that improve New York City’s public education system; promote diversity, equity, and access in the arts; and protect human rights.  We also are interested in preserving historic buildings and places throughout the City.  We are allocating 35 to 40 percent of our budget in these areas.

Health and People with Special Needs.
America’s health care system is fragmented with gaps in service. The current economic climate will disproportionately affect the health of poor elders, children, and people with special needs. While the City has a vast array of nonprofits that provide help, these agencies themselves will lose millions of dollars in donations and grants from corporations and individuals. The Trust supports projects that strengthen preventive health care, improve access to services, promote the efficient use of health resources, and develop the skills and independence of people with special needs.  We are allocating 15 to 20 percent of our budget in this area.

Special Projects and Philanthropy.
New York City is fortunate to have a strong network of organizations that provide nonprofit management assistance. Unfortunately, these organizations themselves are not immune from shrinking public and private dollars. Our role as one of the City’s major sources of support for technical assistance is especially critical in these times.  Our active participation in associations of grant-makers and charitable “watchdog” groups, our cooperative projects with other foundations, and our continuing dialogue with federal, state, and local government officials help assure that our resources are used strategically to address unmet needs, and leverage support for emerging issues.  We are working to help nonprofits understand and function more effectively in the ever-changing political and fiscal climate.  We are allocating up to 5 percent of our budget in this area.


Is it possible to make multi-year grants?

This is often done. In order for us to do so, however, there must be the total amount of the grant in the fund at the time our commitment is made.

I always support my university's annual campaign. Will you pay my pledge?

Private foundations and community foundations are precluded from paying someone else's legal obligations. If you have made a pledge (by signing a commitment) we cannot make a grant fulfilling that obligation. However, if there isn't a pre-existing pledge, we'd be happy to make a grant for your university's annual campaign, and if you let us know, we'll ask that it be specifically credited to your class's gift.

May I make a grant to a needy individual?

While it is certainly a charitable impulse, it is not seen by the tax code as a deductible activity, and therefore we can't write a check at your request to a needy individual. We can, and do, however, make grants to hundreds of organizations that provide shelter, food, and other necessities for the needy.

Can I make grants to a donor-advised fund in another institution?

As a matter of policy, our board has decided not to permit such transfers.

May I make a grant to an organization that is in a foreign country?

We do not make grants to nonprofits outside the United States. Many major foreign organizations have established "American Friends of..." and these, because they are based in the U.S. and follow regulations governing U.S. charities, are often good substitutes for direct support. Proposed legislation may make it impossible to make foreign grants from donor-advised funds.

Fund Investments

What are my investment options?

Currently, we offer three investment vehicles for Community Funds, Inc.
  • A money market fund for donors who anticipate making grants with a substantial portion of the funds they establish.
  • An investment pool of managed accounts in several asset classes for donors with a longer-term orientation.
  • A mutual fund pool consisting largely of a bond fund for donors who want current income.

Read more about these investment options here »

Funds held in trust are not part of Community Funds, Inc. The trusts are invested in balanced accounts, using the proprietary equity and fixed income vehicles of each trustee bank.

Can I change my investments?

From time to time, as circumstances warrant, you may ask us to change the investment, but please remember the money you have given us to establish a fund legally becomes our money, and while mindful of your interests or concerns, our decision on appropriate investment vehicles must remain the final one.

909 Third Avenue | New York, NY 10022 | P (212) 686-0010 | F (212) 532-8528 |
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The New York Community Trust is a 501(c)3 public charity.