Charitable giving made accessible, efficient, and trustworthy through Communities Foundation of Texas

(Courtesy Communities Foundation of Texas)
(Courtesy Communities Foundation of Texas)

(Courtesy Communities Foundation of Texas)

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Jenna-Wade Fowler, Bill Wehunt
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(From left) Jean Callison, Kara Olson, Tony Petty, Pamela Zeigler-Petty, Angie Adams Sifferman
The essence of charitable giving can sometimes be clouded by the misperception that “philanthropists” can only be older individuals who donate huge sums of money to a cause they have been passionate about for decades. Communities Foundation of Texas has seen firsthand that everyone can be a philanthropist and has been demystifying that concept for almost 70 years, working side by side with families, individuals, businesses, and organizations as they fulfill their goals of making a difference in the world.

“With charitable giving, sometimes people who want to give can be a little overwhelmed because there are so many worthy nonprofits and causes here in North Texas,” said Monica Egert Smith, senior vice president and chief giving and community impact officer at CFT. “Our job is to be your guide to giving, to help you think about what matters most to you, what issues you’re most passionate about, and how to get your family, friends, or business involved—and also to make that process as seamless and effective for you personally and what you want to accomplish.”

CFT is the largest community foundation in Texas, managing more than 1,200 charitable funds and stewarding more than $1.5 billion in charitable assets. In 2020, the foundation hit a major milestone, celebrating the granting of over $2 billion to nonprofits since its inception.

In partnership with CFT, the opportunities to be a philanthropist are endless. Donor-advised funds and business-advised funds, popular charitable giving tools, can be opened with $5,000 at CFT and can be easily accessed 24/7 via an online portal to make contributions and grants to nonprofits of your choosing. Further, CFT does all the work in vetting the nonprofits and distributing the grants and is always available for advice and consultation.

“We’re truly here to help you help others,” said Jeri Chambers, CFT’s senior donor engagement officer focused on helping givers in Collin County.

Individuals can also start a charitable fund specifically for a beloved organization or a scholarship fund for students or can establish a field of interest fund for a passion area or unrestricted fund, which allows CFT to award grants to pressing needs and promising opportunities as they arise in the community. People can also establish charitable funds at CFT through their will and estate plans, which can allow for the next generation to participate in a legacy of giving.

“One of the most common myths of charitable giving is that to make an impact you have to have a lot of money. We’ve worked with thousands of people locally who don’t necessarily have huge sums of money to give, but are very strategic and thoughtful in their giving,” Egert Smith said. “Once we understand what you want to accomplish and what your goals are, we can recommend a variety of tax-wise giving tools to help you make that a reality, whether that be now or beyond your lifetime.”

CFT is deeply committed to serving and strengthening Collin County, mobilizing $30 million since 2017 to support nonprofits based in and/or focused on Collin County. CFT’s Collin County Impact Fund is an endowment fund specifically set up to support needs in Collin County, in alignment with CFT’s priority issue areas of health, wealth, living and learning, which CFT believes are the components to building a thriving community for all. Collin County nonprofits who receive grants from the fund apply through a formal letter of inquiry process and only qualify for funding if 75% of the organization’s clients served are Collin County residents.

“Individuals, families, and businesses can donate to the fund at any time and know that it’s going to go support some of the greatest needs at that time in Collin County,” Chambers said. “It’s a really great way for people to contribute broadly to needs and know that their gift is one that will continue giving year after year. And just like with all of our charitable fund offerings, people can gift cash, credit card, stock, IRA, and a variety of complex assets that make the most tax-wise sense for them to help their giving go even further. We’re very serious about growing this fund, because the larger the fund grows, the more we’ll be able to deploy in grant dollars to nonprofits having the greatest impact on whatever the greatest need is at the time.”

CFT has been working to expand its presence in Collin County as a response to great need amid great growth, Chambers said. With both needs and donation opportunities for Collin County residents overflowing, CFT is offering tools and resources to help make the process as efficient and effective as possible for individuals, families, and businesses.

“One of my favorite programs we offer is our GiveWisely program, where we work with families or businesses to identify what matters most to them and apply that to their giving. It’s kind of like a team or family bonding event. Facilitating those conversations is one of my favorite parts of our work,” Chambers said. “It can be extremely enlightening and can help families and businesses make giving decisions that are aligned with their unique passions and priorities. The myth that people already know where they want to give is often dispelled, because they learn things about themselves that surprise them, and they explore giving opportunities that they might not have been expecting.”

To learn more about CFT and begin your philanthropic journey, schedule a complimentary conversation with one of the organization’s experts at 214-750-4229 or [email protected].