Our Mission & Values
The Austin Community Foundation is a unique, nonprofit connection between donors from all walks of life and the broad spectrum of efforts that improve our evolving community.
By serving thousands of individual donors, corporations and nonprofit organizations through a variety of funds, ACF is a bridge between the remarkable people who want to give and the equally remarkable people who use these gifts to better all our lives.
MISSION: The Austin Community Foundation promotes philanthropy in Central Texas to improve the quality of life for all, for today and for the future.
VALUES: In accomplishing this mission, the Austin Community Foundation holds the following values:
Caring - We treat all donors and recipients in an open, compassionate and ethical manner.
Dedication - We are committed stewards of resources to meet identifiable community needs.
- Philanthropic Leadership - We put philanthropy into action to serve the community.
A COMMUNITY OF DONORS
The Austin Community Foundation is a nonprofit organization that provides expert, efficient administrative services to the almost 1,000 individual charitable funds created by individuals, families and organizations in our community.
The Austin Community Foundation qualifies as a Section 501 (c)(3) public charity under the Internal Revenue Code. Every fund created in the Austin Community Foundation qualifies for the maximum charitable deduction permitted by law.
FOR THE FUTURE, FOREVER
The Austin Community Foundation was created to support a thriving community for today and for the future. We are the caretakers for permanent funds that will long outlast their donors, our current staff and the Foundation's current Board of Governors.
The faces may have changed since our first named endowment fund was created in 1978 by John Simpson in honor of his wife, Mary Neighbors Simpson, but in the years since, we have made grants from her fund in excess of the amount of the original gift while preserving principal for the next century's needs.
We expect that living donors will create funds designed to last well into the future, too. Most do. And if someday the need for the fund passes, our Board of Governors will find the nearest possible use for the money by applying the variance power set forth in our Articles of Incorporation. A fund to help prevent polio might today be used for research on multiple sclerosis - so donor can be assured that their charitable wishes will also be permanently fulfilled.
It can take less than an hour to create a fund in the Austin Community Foundation, and working with us after the fund is created could not be simpler.
Each donor who creates a fund may define its charitable purposes and determine the funds name. The name can honor family or friends, or protect anonymity. We monitor the investments, pay out grants from the earnings, and handle all the paper work.
Thomas Jefferson once said that he deemed it "the duty of every man to devote a certain portion of his income for charitable purposes." But Jefferson left wide open the purposes any person might choose because there are as many types of good works as people on this earth.
So we make it easy for people to support good works of their own choice. Donors may adopt the general charitable goals of our community foundation that address the well being of the Austin and surrounding areas. Or they may ask us to support certain causes, such as assisting the elderly or giving a scholarship to a graduate of an area high school. Some name particular charitable groups that have impressed them and other choose to advise us of their changing inclinations over the years.
It's our idea that those close to home know home best.
Community foundations like ours focus on a local area where we can get to know every social need, every arts group, every street corner and neighborhood. That way, we know where to put our donors' gifts so they do the most good.
Donors particularly benefit from this expertise when they adopt our general goals or choose a broad field of interest for their fund. Grants from these funds are spent in our home territory, where we can monitor changing conditions and respond to emergencies.
Other donors specify certain charities they wish us to support with their funds. They benefit from our ability to monitor the charities' performance for generations into the future, ensuring that the donors' funds will continue to meet the purposes for which they were intended.
Donors may recommend grantees outside our region provided that they qualify as 501(c)(3) public charities and have been incorporated within the United States (grants outside of the United States may qualify with certain restrictions).
If each individual fund had to recreate our services from scratch, the price tag would be enormous. But each fund shares the cost of an outstanding staff and superb investment advisors. We provide the services of a growing $100 million foundation to donors whose funds total as little as $5,000 after three years.
We charge minimal fees. Our Board periodically reviews these fees to assure they are the lowest possible while meeting the Austin Community Foundation's expenses. Currently, the Austin Community Foundation charges endowment funds half of 1% of the fund value annually. "Fiscal sponsorship" or "pass-through" funds are not charged any fees, however, any interest that is earned on such funds shall belong to the Austin Community Foundation.
Among the Austin Community Foundation's fiduciary responsibilities, none is more important than the prudent investment of its assets.
The Investment Committee of the Foundation is composed of astute financial managers and business people from the Board of Governors. This committee sets investment policy and oversees the performance of the investment managers who are reviewed quarterly. Investment managers are instructed to preserve endowment principal as the primary objective while current income and long term capital appreciation are secondary objectives. Money managers are evaluated by the Investment Committee on portfolio performance and strategy.
Some contributors of mid-size and larger funds request a different investment scenario that the Investment Committee may agree to carry out, considering the best interests of the Foundation. For example, trust departments of our local banks and a donor's own money manager have been the money managers for several of our funds.
The Foundation has achieved a very satisfactory total return on its funds since its inception. Each fund is credited with its proportionate income and market adjustment every month as well as assessed its share of investment and administrative expense, which is quite low and very competitive.
The Board of Governors of the Austin Community Foundation provides stewardship for all contributed funds. Serving without compensation, the Governors approve all grants made, review investment performance and oversee the operation of the Foundation.
The men and women who make up our Board of Governors represent Austin's most distinguished civic and business leaders. Their charge is to serve our donors and our community. Collectively, they offer extensive knowledge of our region and experience in institutional management, law, finance and philanthropy.
Learn more about the variety of fund options.
Contact us to get started.