Charity Begins at Home.Want to Help Green Causes? Set Up a Family Foundation?
Mark Schlesinger and his wife, Christine Russell Christine Margaret Russell, née Carr (born 25 March 1945, Holbeach) is a Labour Party politician in the United Kingdom.
Russell is the Member of Parliament for the City of Chester, and Parliamentary Private Secretary (PPS) to Beverley Hughes. , a board member of the Natural Resources Defense Council The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is a New York City-based, non-profit non-partisan international environmental advocacy group, with offices in Washington, D.C., San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Beijing. Founded in 1970, NRDC today has 1. (NRDC NRDC Natural Resources Defense Council
NRDC National Research and Development Centre (Institute of Education, London)
NRDC National Realty & Development Corp. ), have been giving money to support the environment for nearly 20 years. But a few years ago, they decided to formalize their philanthropic impulses by setting up a family foundation dedicated to green causes. "I think we envisioned this would be the family business we would share with our children" says Schlesinger, who now runs the Gaia Fund more or less full-time. He met with his lawyer, Robert Wexler Robert I. Wexler (born January 2, 1961) is an American politician from the U.S. state of Florida. He has served as a Democratic member of the U.S. House of Representatives since 1997, representing Florida's At-large congressional district. of the San Francisco San Francisco (săn frănsĭs`kō), city (1990 pop. 723,959), coextensive with San Francisco co., W Calif., on the tip of a peninsula between the Pacific Ocean and San Francisco Bay, which are connected by the strait known as the Golden law firm Silk, Adler & Colvin, which represents nonprofit organizations and their donors. Together, they began the process of incorporation and gaming tax-exempt status.
Now Mark and Christine give five percent of their foundation's $12 million endowment each year to support the work of such organizations as the NRDC, the World Resources Institute Founded in 1982, the World Resources Institute (WRI) is an environmental think tank based in Washington, D.C. WRI is an independent, non-partisan and nonprofit organization with a staff of more than 100 scientists, economists, policy experts, business analysts, statistical and local Bay Area environmental groups. Their fledgling charitable organization is one of 30,000 family foundations in the U.S., with new ones being created every year. Overall, donations to the environment and to wildlife preservation account for five percent of all charitable giving, says The Foundation Center.
For philanthropists with an interest in environmental causes and a substantial sum to give, setting up a family foundation can be a good option. Foundation status offers donors complete control over where their money goes, while creating tax advantages and promoting family unity (one hopes!). But because a foundation requires a huge commitment of time and money, donors should have more motivation for wanting to take this approach than a simple interest in supporting environmental work. "There is usually a strong desire on the part of the donor to promote their values and stewardship responsibilities to include family members, usually the next two generations" says Winsome win·some
Charming, often in a childlike or naive way.
[Middle English winsum, from Old English wynsum : from wynn, joy; see wen-1 McIntosh, a Defenders of Wildlife Defenders of Wildlife is non-profit 501(c)(3) organization founded in 1947 out of concern for perceived cruelties of the use of steel-jawed leghold traps for trapping fur-bearing animals. board member who runs her own foundation and guides clients through the setting-up process as principal of the Florida-based consulting firm Philanthropic Strategies.
The first step is to consult with a financial planner Financial Planner
A qualified investment professional who assists individuals and corporations meet their long-term financial objectives by analyzing the client's status and setting a program to achieve these goals. and a lawyer, preferably one who specializes in nonprofit law. The lawyer will guide you through the process of incorporating and applying to the Internal Revenue Service as a private foundation. Next, you can set up bylaws The rules and regulations enacted by an association or a corporation to provide a framework for its operation and management.
Bylaws may specify the qualifications, rights, and liabilities of membership, and the powers, duties, and grounds for the dissolution of an and a board of trustees board of trustees Politics The posse of thugs who oversee an institution's administration. See Board of directors. (usually family members, but it could also be staffed with, say, environmental scientists). Startup costs range from a few hundred dollars to several thousand. There are tax advantages, but because the foundation retains a high level of control, they're generally not as generous as if you'd simply written checks.
Your foundation will be required to give away five percent of its endowment each year, but many donate a larger percentage. The level of giving can be based on the performance of the foundation's assets, which could well top five percent a year.
Should you specify which environmental causes you're interested in supporting in your bylaws? "Your bylaws should give you as much freedom as possible," says Joe Pierpont, co-executive director of the Association of Small Foundations. "Your mission statement might say that you want to fund programs to protect the environment. You don't want to lock yourself into programs, say, that are aimed at protecting certain land in Alaska. Once it's protected, then what would you do?"
Karen Green, director of family foundation services for the Council on Foundations The Council on Foundations is a membership organization of more than 2,000 grant-making foundations and giving programs worldwide. They provide leadership expertise, legal services and networking opportunities and other services to participating members and the general public. , advises people to consider more straightforward methods of giving first. "I'm the last person to discourage family foundations, because that's my job. But they are a big commitment and they take a lot of administration and energy."
For some donors, she says, better options might be to make a direct gift, to leave your IRA Ira, in the Bible
Ira (ī`rə), in the Bible.
1 Chief officer of David.
3 Two of David's guard.
IRA. to an environmental group, or to fund a community foundation. "You can be very specific about where you want your money to go. There's also something more general, called a field of interest fund, where the donor could just say, `I want my money to go to environmental causes.' What's good about a community foundation is that you're relying on a professional staff to look at your community's needs."
For Schlesinger and Russell, control was the main reason they decided to set up their own family foundation. But control comes at a cost. "What you give up" says Schlesinger, "is this wonderful back-office support. You have to do everything yourself." CONTACT: The Council on Foundations, 1828 L Street NW, Suite 300, Washington, DC 20036/(202)466-6512. For a list of community foundations in your area, ask for the council's community foundation locator.
ELAINE ROBBINS writes about travel and environmental issues from her base in Austin, TX.