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Why Work with The Trust?

Maybe your clients are planning for their estates, or selling a business or stock options. Or managing an inheritance. Or they want to streamline their giving today.

You can help them achieve their charitable and financial goal,  And we can help you help them. Some of the advantages to working with The New York Community Trust:

  • You control the client relationship. We can extend the range of services you offer to clients.
  • We’re flexible about the types of assets we accept, the kinds of funds your clients can choose from, and we offer a variety of investment vehicles.
  • We build philanthropic legacies. Donors who set up permanent funds can feel secure that we’ll honor their charitable legacy in their names—forever.
  • Effective grantmaking. Our staff are expert in issues from the arts to the environment, from job training to health care, and they’re steeped in New York. They know the most effective nonprofits.
  • Tax smart. Your client receives the maximum tax deduction allowed by law for charitable contributions, greater than establishing a private foundation. Your client will receive an immediate tax deduction for contributions to a fund, while grants from the fund may be made over time.
  • Good company. By joining a community of generous New Yorkers and a respected organization with a long history of helping New Yorkers, your clients know their charitable gifts will make a difference. They will also be invited to briefings on city issues.
  • Worldclass service. We take care of asset transfers, investing, grantmaking, record keeping, and reporting. For donor advisors, our online portal MyNYCT, makes it fast and simple to suggest grants. We offer personal service that sets us apart from commercial gift funds. You and your clients will deal with people, not automated menus. You’ll also have access to experts on local nonprofits and local needs.  

Why not a Private Foundation?

For many, a donor-advised fund in The Trust is a wiser choice than a private foundation. Administrative costs are lower, and donors can take advantage of our grantmaking experts, investment staff, and other resources of a large foundation. Many donors have closed private foundations and transferred the assets to funds in The Trust, freeing up more money for the causes they care about. Other families use Trust donor-advised funds to support causes outside the focus of their private foundations.

For more information about how we can help you as you help your clients, contact our general counsel, Jane L. Wilton, at (212) 686-2563,


General Questions about The Trust

What is the difference between The New York Community Trust and Community Funds, Inc.?

What is known to the public as “The New York Community Trust,” is in fact two organizations. The first, The New York Community Trust, is organized as an unincorporated association of trusts. Each component fund is held in trust with a bank trustee that is a member of our Trustees Committee, and every gift instrument incorporates by reference The Resolution and Declaration of Trust creating “The New York Community Trust” (the R&D).

The second entity is Community Funds, Inc., a New York not-for-profit corporation. No bank trustee is required; rather, component funds are invested by money managers retained and overseen by our distinguished Investment Committee.

The two organizations file a combined Form 990 with the Internal Revenue Service, share a board and staff, and together operate as the community foundation serving metropolitan New York. The determining factor in setting up a fund with either organization is the inclination of the donor.  The service we provide is the same.  

What are the Long Island Community Foundation and the Westchester Community Foundation?

Through these affiliates, which are not separately incorporated but operate as divisions, we are able to serve Long Island and Westchester County. Each of these divisions has a Board of Advisors of local experts. These affiliates serve donors from their communities as well as making grants to operating charities serving their respective communities.

What is the Distribution Committee of The New York Community Trust?

The Distribution Committee is the name given to our governing board under The Resolution and Declaration of Trust creating "The New York Community Trust." It makes policy and grant decisions like any board of directors. It should not be confused with our Trustees Committee, which is a committee of bank trustees that have adopted the R&D and does not have the power of a board of directors.

Why should my client establish a fund at The Trust rather than create a private foundation?

The New York Community Trust offers the advantages of a private foundation without most of the expense and hassle. Professionally staffed, The Trust can handle all aspects of grantmaking.

Although The New York Community Trust is an aggregate of separate funds, it qualifies as a public charity under Internal Revenue Code Sections 501(c)(3) and 170(b)(1)(A)(vi). That status entitles our donors to tax deductions that are often superior to those accorded private foundation donors, particularly clients who make large inter vivos gifts relative to income or who contribute appreciated property other than publicly traded stock.

And as a single charity, the filing costs are spread among all of our more than 2,000 funds. A fund can be set up in a day.

What is the variance power?

The long passage of time can sometimes cause a fund’s purpose to become outdated. 

Our board has the authority without going to court to change the fund’s purpose, “if and whenever it shall appear to the Distribution Committee…that circumstances have so changed since the execution of the instrument containing any gift, grant, devise or bequest as to render unnecessary, undesirable, impractical or impossible a literal compliance with the terms of such instrument, said Committee may at any time or from time to time direct the application of such gift, grant, devise or bequest to such other public educational, charitable or benevolent purpose as, in their judgment, will most effectually accomplish the general purpose [of The New York Community Trust]…”

How can I obtain financial information and other materials about the Trust?

Information not available on our website can be obtained by contacting us at 909 Third Avenue, New York, New York 10022, (212) 686-0010, or as stated below:

Colorado: Secretary of State (303) 894-2680, re: Reg. No.20033000084. Florida: SC No. CH9514. A COPY OF THE OFFICIAL REGISTRATION AND FINANCIAL INFORMATION MAY BE OBTAINED FROM THE DIVISION OF CONSUMER SERVICES BY CALLING TOLL-FREE, WITHIN THE STATE, 1-800-HELP-FLA. Maryland: For the cost of postage and copying, documents and information filed under the Maryland charitable organizations laws can be obtained from the Secretary of State, Charitable Division, State House, Annapolis, MD 21401. Michigan: MICS No.22265. Mississippi: The official registration and financial information of The New York Community Trust may be obtained from the Mississippi Secretary of State's office by calling 1-888-236-6167. New Jersey: INFORMATION FILED WITH THE ATTORNEY GENERAL CONCERNING THIS CHARITABLE SOLICITATION AND THE PERCENTAGE OF CONTRIBUTIONS RECEIVED BY THE CHARITY DURING THE LAST REPORTING PERIOD THAT WERE DEDICATED TO THE CHARITABLE PURPOSE MAY BE OBTAINED FROM THE ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE STATE OF NEW JERSEY BY CALLING (973) 504-6215 AND IS AVAILABLE ON THE INTERNET AT New York: Upon request, a copy of the latest annual report can be obtained from the organization or from the New York State Attorney General Charities Bureau, Attn: FOIL Officer, 120 Broadway, New York, NY 10271. North Carolina: Financial information about this organization and a copy of its license are available from the State Solicitation Licensing Branch at 1-888-830-4989. Pennsylvania: The official registration and financial information of The New York Community Trust may be obtained from the Pennsylvania Department of State by calling toll-free, within Pennsylvania, 1-800-732-0999. Virginia: Financial statements are available from the State Office of Consumer Affairs, P.O. Box 1163, Richmond, VA 23218. West Virginia: West Virginia residents may obtain a summary of the registration and financial documents from the Secretary of State, State Capitol, Charleston, WV 25305. REGISTRATION IN A STATE DOES NOT IMPLY ENDORSEMENT, APPROVAL, OR RECOMMENDATION OF THE NEW YORK COMMUNITY TRUST BY THE STATE.

Can my client’s private foundation hire your grant staff for advice?

We appreciate this recognition of our staff’s ability, and we hear this question all the time. A private foundation may establish a fund with us by either transferring all or part of its principal or by making an annual grant to that fund, and our grant staff will assume grantmaking responsibility. Unfortunately, our staff is not available to consult directly with a private foundation.

More on private foundations and funds in The Trust

Questions about Planned Giving at The Trust

What are the advantages of creating a CRT—either in the form of an annuity trust or unitrust?

A Charitable Remainder Trust, whether set up as an annuity trust or a unitrust, is an extremely useful estate and financial planning tool. Typically, CRTs offer three important tax benefits:

  • A current income or estate tax deduction for the present value of the remainder committed to charity;
  • The avoidance of capital gains tax when the appreciated assets are sold;
  • Exemption from tax of earnings of the trust until they are distributed to the income beneficiary.

In addition, because the assets of a CRT are exempt from tax on the income earned by the trust, the proceeds are available for reinvestment by the trustee. This means the donor can potentially realize more spendable income from the CRT’s investment and conversion of assets than he or she could in an individual capacity.

Whether the trust is structured as a unitrust or annuity trust, The Trust is an ideal remainderman of a CRT. Donors can rely on The Trust’s expertise in philanthropic administration and grantmaking as well as investment management, and benefit from The Trust’s flexibility with respect to the variety of charitable funds it offers and the types of gifts that it can accept.

For more information on charitable remainder trusts, please see our March and June 2008 issues of Professional Notes, discussing charitable remainder annuity trusts and unitrusts, respectively.

What if the assets in a charitable remainder unitrust won’t generate enough income... cover the payment to the income beneficiary?

If the donor does not want to invade principal to pay the income beneficiary, an income-only unitrust may be the answer because it makes payments only out of income. In addition, the trust instrument may provide that if income has not been enough to cover the unitrust payments in prior years, income in excess of that amount in later years can be used to make up the shortfall.

Or a "flip" trust might be the solution, changing from a net income unitrust to a standard unitrust upon the occurrence of an event, such as the sale of low-income producing assets contributed to the trust.

Will you serve as trustee of my client’s charitable remainder trust?

Where the remainder will come to Community Funds for a purpose we have approved, we are happy to consider serving as trustee. We will need to review the proposed trust agreement, the asset proposed to be contributed, the payout terms, and likely duration of the trust. Please contact Jane Wilton to discuss further.

What is a charitable lead trust and its advantages?

Under a charitable lead trust, which can be created by a deed of trust or will, an annuity or unitrust payment from the trust is paid to a fund in The New York Community Trust for a designated period of time, at the end of which the principal would be paid to a non-charitable beneficiary selected by the donor.

A charitable lead trust created by will can cut down substantially on estate taxes because of the charitable deduction for our charitable interest in the annuity or unitrust payment. The value of the charitable interest, of course, depends on the length of the trust and amount or percentage to be paid out each year. The savings in estate taxes means that the members of the donor's family may ultimately receive more than if the property were left to them at the donor's death.

Similarly, a charitable lead trust created during the donor's lifetime generally eliminates income taxes on the income from the assets placed in the trust because the amounts paid to charity are fully deductible against the trust's income. It also reduces the gift tax on the property eventually passing to children or grandchildren, provides for charity, and ensures that the property passes intact.

Will you serve as trustee of my client’s charitable lead trust?

Unfortunately, we cannot serve as the trustee of your client’s charitable lead trust. If your client is considering establishing a charitable lead trust naming The Trust as a lead beneficiary, please call Jane Wilton, general counsel, and she will be happy to discuss possible alternatives for selecting a trustee.

How can life insurance be used to create a fund in The Trust?

Many people find in later years that they don't need all the insurance they did when they were younger. They donate the policies to the funds they established here. If a policy is fully paid up, the tax deduction is either the replacement value or the donor's cost, whichever is less.

If a policy is not paid up and the donor decides to contribute the premiums, those amounts become deductible as charitable contributions. In either case, the donor gets an immediate tax deduction and substantial estate tax savings later.

Can IRAs and similar pension assets be used to create a fund in The New York Community Trust?

Yes. In fact, IRAs and similar pension assets, such as 401(k)s, 403(b)s, and defined contribution plans, as well as non-statutory stock options and deferred compensation, are ideal assets to consider contributing to charity. Such assets, which constitute “income in respect of a decedent” (IRD) under the U.S. Treasury regulations, are the most highly taxed assets at death and are both included in the value of the decedent’s taxable estate and deemed income to the beneficiary. Individuals who designate a charitable recipient as beneficiary of IRD property avoid the income tax that would otherwise be due and generate a corresponding charitable deduction that reduces their taxable estate. In so doing, donors are able to further their philanthropic interests while leaving more to heirs.

Your client may also wish to use IRA assets to establish a charitable legacy during his or her life. Current law permits up to $100,000 in tax-free distributions from individual retirement plans to qualified charitable distributions for individuals who are 70 1/2 or older, and excludes from income up to $100,000 annually in qualified charitable distributions from a traditional or Roth IRA, while counting these distributions toward the minimum distribution requirements that apply to such individuals. While a contribution to a donor-advised fund is not deemed a qualified charitable distribution, and thus is not eligible for this tax-advantaged treatment, contributions to a designated, field-of-interest or unrestricted fund do qualify. By taking advantage of this provision, your clients can see their charitable gifts put to work while reducing their current income tax and the value of their taxable estates. If enacted, the Public Good IRA Rollover Act of 2009 (H.R. 1250 and S. 864) would extend these provision to donor-advised funds, supporting organizations, and private foundations. The bill would also lift the $100,000 cap on distributions and allow planned gifts beginning at age 59 1/2.

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.