Frequently asked questions
What is the Darke County Foundation?
The Darke County Foundation is a tax-exempt public charity that connects donors with meaningful causes in our community. Through donations by individuals, families, businesses and charitable organizations, the Foundation establishes funds that are professionally managed and dedicated to long-term growth, creating lasting legacies for years to come. The Foundation’s two methods of grant-making are scholarships to local students and community grants to non-profit organizations. By supporting areas such as education, the arts, social services, community projects, conservation, animal welfare, and more, the Foundation improves the quality of life for Darke County residents and helps donors fulfill their charitable wishes.
Who oversees the Darke County Foundation?
A 20-member board of trustees works diligently to ensure that each donor’s charitable intent is honored. The members, who live and/or work in all parts of Darke County, offer a broad range of experiences, including law, financial planning, education, small business ownership and community leadership.
What are the Foundation's different types of funds?
The Darke County Foundation administers about 80 funds that support scholarships or community grants to local non-profit organizations. Some funds are permanent endowments that are invested to last in perpetuity, and some funds are temporary that distribute all of the original gift. Here is a list of the types of funds donors may establish:
Unrestricted Community Fund: This type of fund offers the most flexibility and enables the Darke County Foundation to support local non-profit organizations that serve the changing needs of our community. By contributing to an existing community fund or establishing a new fund, donors place their trust in our board of trustees to determine the most effective programs that strengthen the quality of life in Darke County.
Donor-Advised Fund: A donor or donor-designated committee is actively involved in distributions from this fund by making periodic grants to charitable organizations. Donor-advised funds offer the benefits of a private foundation while leaving the administrative tasks to the Darke County Foundation.
Designated Fund: When donors establish this type of fund, they designate one or more charitable organizations to receive an automatic annual distribution from the spendable amount. A designated fund may be permanent, providing yearly grants in perpetuity, or it may spend out over a certain number of years.
Field of Interest Fund: Donors interested in a certain cause (like the environment, the arts, healthcare, etc.) or geographic area (like a certain town) may set up a fund to award grants that support these interests. Grants are not restricted to a particular organization, and the Foundation’s board of trustees chooses grant recipients.
Scholarship Fund: These funds provide financial assistance to any level of education (such as college freshmen, upperclass students, or technical/vocational school). Donors may restrict the scholarship to a certain high school or open it to any Darke County student. Other criteria may include certain fields of study, certain colleges, or specific high school activities – the Darke County Foundation staff can help donors with these decisions.
Project Fund: Normally established by a group of individuals to support a community need, project funds collect donations from the public then distribute the entire principal to the project.
Organization Fund: Non-profit organizations may set up a fund to provide ongoing, annual grants to its own organization. In this way, the Foundation helps other organizations manage their assets.
What kind of gifts can I give?
Gifts to the Foundation may be in the form of cash, securities, required IRA distributions, property, or other investments. You might also consider naming the Foundation through a bequest in your will or as a beneficiary of a life insurance policy. Donations receive the maximum tax benefits allowed by law. Donors may take a charitable tax deduction during the year of their gift, then make distributions over time. Consult your financial or legal advisor for methods of giving to maximize your tax advantages.
How do I start a fund?
People from all walks of life have started funds for causes in which they strongly believe. Those funds may support scholarships to local students or grants to non-profit organizations doing valuable work in our community. Donors can set up a permanent endowment fund that distributes annual gifts in perpetuity, or a temporary fund that distributes the entire principal gift over time. You may designate a specific purpose for your fund or allow the Foundation's board of trustees to determine how distributions from the fund could best serve Darke County residents. Some funds start at the direction of a bequest in a donor’s will, but many people choose to start funds while they are still living, so they may see the fruit of their philanthropy or make changes to the process.
Can I give to an existing fund?
Yes, sometimes donors aren’t ready to set up their own fund, or they see a fund already in place that fits their needs. Donors may contribute to existing scholarship and community funds that are named for a special person or purpose, or they may donate to the following general funds:
Darke County Foundation Endowment Fund: Donations to this fund are added to the long-term account that uses investment income to award annual grants to local non-profit organizations, allowing the Foundation to respond to the ever-changing needs of our community.
Friends of the Foundation: For the broadest community support, donors may contribute to this fund that provides grants to local non-profit organizations on a competitive basis. The Foundation’s board of trustees reviews requests each year to determine where these funds would best serve our community.
May I set up a future fund through my estate planning?
The Legacy Society of the Darke County Foundation recognizes individuals who have included the Darke County Foundation in their wills or estate plans, with no commitment to a particular amount. Donors may complete a form to keep on file at the Foundation that specifies the charitable purpose of their future donation. Official directives for the gift will be provided to the Foundation through the donor’s attorney when the estate is settled.
Can I personalize the name of a fund?
Establishing a fund is a momentous, sometimes emotional, milestone for many donors. The fund often memorializes a loved one, honors a respected business, or supports a special purpose that is meaningful to the donors. Naming a personalized fund helps the donors, the community, and the recipients remember the reason the fund was started and pay tribute to the fund’s namesake. Other donors choose to keep their fund name anonymous.
How do community funds work?
The Darke County Foundation assists charitable organizations by providing funding for programs that serve Darke County residents. These groups can include social service charities, libraries, schools, museums, parks, churches, theaters, youth athletic teams, and many others. Organizations must have 501c3 or equivalent status with the IRS. Donors may contribute to one of the Foundation’s unrestricted community funds that allow our trustees to select deserving organizations to receive funding. Or donors may set up a donor-advised fund or designated fund to support charities of their choice.
Who can apply for community grants from the Darke County Foundation?
Organizations that serve Darke County residents may apply during the annual grant application period. Organizations may be headquartered outside Darke County.
When can non-profit organizations apply for grants?
The annual grant application period opens online in mid-May, and applications are due in late June. Recipients who are selected will receive their money in August.
How do scholarship funds work?
Donors may support scholarships for any level of education (such as college freshmen, upperclass students, or technical/vocational school). Other criteria may include a specific high school, certain fields of study, a particular colleges, or specific high school activities. The Foundation’s scholarship committee works with donors to ensure that the very best students are selected to fit the profile the donor’s request. Students must meet a minimum required grade point average in college before receiving their award after 1st semester. A complete list of Foundation scholarships can be found here.
Who can apply for scholarships?
Seniors who attend a Darke County high school or are home-schooled in Darke County may apply for a high school scholarship. The Foundation offers several scholarships for post-high school students, which are listed here.
When is the scholarship deadline?
The high school scholarship application opens online in February and is due March 31. Scholarships for current college students open online in April and are due June 1. Click here for other special scholarship deadlines.
What are the benefits of giving through the Darke County Foundation?
You can decide what, when, how to give, and for what purpose. The Darke County Foundation makes your charitable giving easier by overseeing the investments, record keeping, accounting and reporting to the IRS.
Careful stewardship by the Darke County Foundation assures prudent management and accountability to the donor’s intention. Our trustees approve all scholarship and grant distributions.
Your gifts are managed locally and awarded primarily to Darke County students or non-profit organizations, strengthening and enriching our community for generations to come.
Whether your charitable interests are broad or narrow, the Darke County Foundation can help identify and fulfill your wishes in a convenient way. From small gifts to large, you can find an opportunity to add to an existing fund or create a new one.
5. Cost Effective
There is no cost to set up a fund at the Darke County Foundation. The Foundation may assess permanent funds a modest administrative fee to cover operating costs. The Foundation maintains low operating costs, allowing more money to be directed toward charitable grants.
The Foundation focuses on long-term growth of endowment funds that provide support for causes in which our donors strongly believe, benefiting the community forever. We assist donors in fulfilling their charitable wishes and creating lasting tributes to a loved one or favorite charity.
7. Tax Advantage
As a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt public charity, the Foundation offers the maximum tax benefits allowed by law. You can take a charitable tax deduction the year you donate, then make distributions over time.
Who oversees the financial assets of the Darke County Foundation?
The Darke County Foundation’s investment committee meets twice a year with portfolio managers of 4 banking institutions that manage the Foundation’s investments. The investment committee consists of local bank leaders and financial professionals.
What is the cost to establish a fund?
There is no cost to set up a fund at the Darke County Foundation. The Foundation may assess permanent funds an annual administrative fee to cover operating costs of the Foundation.
What is the spending policy of the Darke County Foundation?
Each year the Foundation’s board of trustees votes on an amount to distribute from its invested funds, usually between 3.5% and 4% of the average investment balance over the last 16 quarters.
Can I support organizations outside Darke County?
Yes, donors can recommend a distribution from their fund to any qualified nonprofit organization in Darke County or elsewhere.