Donor Education Series

In Our Backyard

The Community Foundation aims to be a catalyst and connector for positive change in the community. We provide opportunities for donors to understand the community’s needs and experience the impact of their philanthropy. We review data, research trends and collect feedback from our nonprofit partners.  Our donor education series, affectionately called “In Our Backyard,” offers you a chance to expand your knowledge and awareness about the happenings in your local community. You’ll hear from industry experts in a panel forum and engage in a lively Q&A with the audience. We design topics around various issues, including the arts and culture, environment, vulnerable populations, health and human services, education, and more.

The Spring 2024 topics include Mental Health and Families Under Pressure. The fall sessions will be announced soon.

Event Recap: We held the first In Our Backyard event in March, focusing on the crucial topic of mental health. It aimed to elevate our understanding of adults, children, and their families living with a mental health diagnosis. We heard from experts Jill Bolster-White and Roberto Cueva from the Transitions-Mental Health Association, as well as Kamela Proulx from the Atascadero High School Wellness Center. We learned about the increased mental health needs of youth in ourcommunity, the breadth of programming now available to help address the increased needs, and where the gaps inservices exist. We were encouraged to learn of the Central Coast Hotline, our community’s only 24/7, 365-day free, confidential mental health guidance, crisis, and suicide prevention line. Please consider adding the hotline to your phone and sharing it with others at 1-800-783-0607.

Additional Mental Health Information:

The California Healthy Kids Survey is an excellent resource for data on student mental health. You can access their Data Dashboard by clicking here.

Philanthropic Services

Whether you are an attorney, financial planner, or tax advisor, The Community Foundation can assist you and your client in establishing an enduring community legacy and achieving the full tax benefits for their charitable contributions.  We will support you and your clients at every step of the charitable giving process.

We can help you:

  • Identify your client’s charitable giving interests and motivations
  • Match charitable interests with tax planning needs
  • Create and implement charitable plans that are integrated into major business, personal and financial decisions
  • Provide information about community needs
  • Deliver a full range of administrative services related to charitable giving

To learn more about communities needs and opportunities, please contact Donor Services at or call 805-543-2323.

How and What To Give

The Community Foundation is here to help you accomplish all your charitable giving goals.  Our knowledgeable staff can help guide you through the various funding options.  Whether you would like to set up a fund now or learn about planned giving for the future, we can help tailor your fund needs.

If you would like to set up a fund, one of our most popular options is a Donor Advised Fund (DAF).  We offer two types of Donor Advised Funds, endowed or non-endowed.  Please read below to discover what fund fits your philanthropic goals.

Endowed Funds

An endowment is a permanent fund of which the interest in available for grants to nonprofit organizations while the principal (initial amount used to open the fund) remains intact.  The amount available for grant distribution is based on our spending policy.  As the principal balance can never be spent, the endowment earning power is protected against inflation, and the principal amount gifted will never deplete.  This way, the fund will continue to give for your charitable desired in perpetuity.

Non-Endowed Funds

Non-Endowed fund have no permanent principal balance and are immediately available for grant distribution.  However, the fund balance is finite in existence.  Unless additional funding is provided, the balance available will run out over time.

For more information about the specific types of funds, please view our Toolkit page or contact Donor Services at or call 805-543-2323.

Estate Planning

Another great way to accomplish a charitable legacy and receive significant estate tax benefits is by using charitable trusts.  Planned gifts to charity are deductible without limit and reduce the taxable estate.  There are two main types of charitable trusts, Charitable Remainder Trusts (CRT) and Charitable Lead Trust (CLT), that are outlined below.

The Charitable Remainder Trust

A Charitable Remainder Trust (CRT) is a common and effective estate planning tool.  A donor may use a CRT if they would like their up-front interest to go to a non-charitable beneficiary (such as a spouse or other family member) and the remainder to a charity.  The CRT is an irrevocable trust that is tax-exempt and may be useful to defer gain on an asset.

The Charitable Lead Trust

A Charitable Lead Trust (CLT) is also an irrevocable trust but the lead interest goes to a designated charity and the remainder to a non-charitable beneficiary.

There are many different options for charitable estate planning.  Please speak with your professional advisor to learn more about the options that would work best for you.  For more information about estate planning available through The Community Foundation, please see our Toolkit or contact Donor Services at or call 805-543-2323.

Charitable Funds

Donor Advised Funds (DAFs) are often explored as viable alternatives to private foundations and are popular options for donors nationwide.  DAFs provide donors an immediate tax break, investment growth opportunities of charitable assets and are sustainable through retirement. There are three main benefits of Donor Advised Funds.

  1. Reasonable start-up costs.
  2. Excellent opportunity for the donor to research charitable organizations and find a match for their philanthropic interests.
  3. Ability for moderate income donors to involve family in charitable giving.

For donors with more substantial charitable intentions, a DAF may also be considered as an alternative to a private foundation.  These are the main advantages of a DAF over a private foundation:

  1. Higher Grant Distribution Rates: DAFs often make grants of 15 percent to 30 percent each year.  The Council on Foundations website indicates that private foundations grant an average of 6.23 percent of assets to charity on an annual basis.
  1. Access for Donors: Many individuals can create a DAF with $10,000 or more. Private foundations are much more expensive to fund and operate.  The development or creation of a private foundation could involve an expenditure of $10,000 simply to create the organization.  In addition, the private foundation has substantial operating costs each year.
  1. Staff Oversight and Donor Support: About 5 percent of private foundations have professional staff. The Community Foundation highly qualified staff with great expertise in making effective charitable grants.  Giving grants with optimum charitable impact requires a level of expertise that is more likely to be found with the public charity staff managing a DAF.

For more information about the different types of charitable funds, please see our Toolkit or contact Donor Services at or call 805-543-2323.

Source: The Council on Foundations

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Heidi H. McPherson Chief Executive Officer (805) 543-2323