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Frequently Asked Questions about Giving

FAQs about The Trust

What is The New York Community Trust?

We are one of the country's largest community foundations. We have been helping charitable individuals, families, and businesses with their philanthropy since 1924. We make philanthropy convenient, professional, and lasting. 

The Trust and Community Funds operate together as The New York Community Trust, with a single governing body.

Community Funds is our not-for-profit corporation. Its assets are invested by outside portfolio managers and overseen by our respected Investment Committee. The New York Community Trust is composed of separate charitable trusts, each of which has a bank trustee.

Learn more about our history »

Meet our staff>>

Meet our board>>

Meet our trustee banks>>

What is a community foundation?

Community foundations are different from private foundations. They have a broad mandate to serve their communities, and can’t limit their focus to a few areas. They also must have a geographic focus. Community foundations are made up of many individual charitable funds, some that are for unrestricted purposes, and others that are for particular fields of interest, some broad, others narrow. Some funds are set up by will or through deferred giving arrangements, some by living donors who recommend grants.

How are grants made at The Trust?

Grants at the trust are made in one of two ways: they are suggested by our donor-advisors or made from our discretionary grants program in response to proposals from nonprofits. The later are made possible through the generosity of past donors who established permanent charitable funds with us during their lifetimes or through their wills. Visit our Grants at Work section to learn more about these discretionary grants.

Many people who set up donor-advised funds have left principal in the fund. When it is no longer advised, the money is put into our discretionary grants program and used to make grants in the donors' names forever. Others add to their funds by will. And still other create new funds in their wills. Learn more about creating a charitable legacy.

What's the difference between The Trust and Community Funds, Inc.?

The Trust and Community Funds operate together as The New York Community Trust, with a single governing body.

Community Funds is our not-for-profit corporation. Its assets are invested by outside portfolio managers and overseen by our respected Investment Committee.

The New York Community Trust is composed of separate charitable trusts, each of which has a bank trustee. The trustee must be one of our several trustee banks; no co-trustees are permitted. The Resolution and Declaration of Trust creating "The New York Community Trust" (the R&D) is a complete trust instrument that sets out in detail the powers and duties of the trustee bank and our board. In order to establish a fund in The Trust, the trust document simply incorporates the R&D by reference.

View our IRS Determination Letters (2005) (PDF, 38KB)>>

View our IRS Determination Letters (2006) (PDF, 39KB)>>

Does The Trust have conflict of interest and whistle blower policies?

Yes, we have both.

You can download our Conflict of Interest Policy here,

and our Whistle Blower Policy here.

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.

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.