Wanting to be valuable members of society and have a meaningful purpose in life drives people to look for ways to help those less fortunate than themselves. Particular gratification comes from supporting nonprofits that do things we could not do on our own. However, determining where our time and money will have the greatest impact can be challenging.
The 80-year-old Inland Empire Community Foundation wants to make supporting causes as easy and effective as possible.
“We manage about 400 funds that have been established at the foundation,” says Jose Marquez, director of planned giving. “We often work with professional advisors who refer their clients to us to establish funds.” In fact, IECF has a Professional Advisors Council that meets twice a year to learn and share information that helps them guide their clients.
Teresa Rhyne, who has an estate-planning law office in Riverside, not only is one of IECF’s advisors, but also has insight from serving on the foundation’s board from 2015 to 2018.
“I talk to most of my clients about charitable giving,” she says. “Often, their concern is, ‘How do we know XYZ will be the same kind of organization in the future, that they won’t change their goals, and aren’t spending all their money on administration?’ I tell them, ‘You can’t know that after you’re gone, but there is an organization that can.’ Inland Empire Community Foundation will ensure my clients’ money is going to the charitable purpose they want to serve.”
“Part of what Teresa is talking about is stability,” Marquez says, referring to the solidity of an established organization with a staff and board dedicated to improving the lives of all people living in the 27,000-square-mile, two-county Inland Empire. “We have contractual agreements with donors, and each one is tailored to fit their intent.”
“I may have a client who essentially knows the type of charities they want to benefit,” Rhyne says. “The foundation has a grant committee that will look at what organizations are doing over time.”
“The due diligence we conduct includes making sure a nonprofit is compliant with the IRS and is the right one for the donor,” Marquez adds.
Rhyne recalls a client she had years ago who established a trust for a donor-advised fund. Every year, his five children decide where funds will go.
“The kids get together and remember what was important to him,” she says. “His memory gets honored, and the community gets support every year.”
Ways and Means
If you’re in the market for a new car or refrigerator, you don’t want one take-it-or-leave-it model. Everyone has different resources, needs, and desires. So, it follows that when you consider investing your money in any manner, you want — and should have — choices. IECF offers a panoply of immediate, annual, and legacy giving options.
IECF’s Inland Empire–centric funds support causes that connect to a kaleidoscope of interests. Or you can create a fund at IECF in your own name, the name of your family or business, or in honor of a person or organization you wish to honor.
Funds can be established as an endowment that will generate grants or scholarships in perpetuity through stock and bond investments that generate earnings or nonpermanent funds that are invested in more easily liquidated investments. You can direct where monies go or rely on IECF staff expertise to identify areas of greatest need.
With a donor-advised fund, you or your heirs direct how funds are used (e.g., grants to specific organizations). But IECF offers guidance and handles IRS reporting. Donor-advised funds are useful for making an immediate impact and supporting a cause (or causes) over time.
You can establish a field-of-interest fund that supports multiple nonprofits focused on an issue (e.g., housing, mental health, racial equity) or a designated fund restricted to a specific organization through yearly grants.
If investing in tomorrow’s leaders through education is your passion, you can establish your own scholarship fund or donate to IECF’s Graduate Success Fund that helps low-income students in the region earn college degrees.
There are some 11,000 nonprofits in the Inland Empire. If you want to help your community without having to conduct extensive and constant research into geoeconomics in general and nonprofit organizations addressing such underpinning issues specifically, you can contribute to the Community Impact Fund, through which IECF’s board of directors responds to the most critical needs in the region as they arise.
Part of the beauty of the Inland Empire Community Foundation lies in its network of collaborations. That pooling of resources, skills, knowledge, capabilities, and perspectives magnifies the impact of every dollar donated. You need not have a considerable cache of cash to make a difference.
“All forms of giving have their own benefits, whether it be altruism and legacy building or for taxes,” Marquez says. “So, giving is a win-win-win proposition: You feel good about making the world a better place, you preserve more of your hard-earned assets for yourself and your heirs, and a nonprofit gets much-needed funding to support its work.”
The foundation’s website (iegives.org) includes an alphabetical list of all its funds, with a “DONATE” button for one-time and recurring contributions. Those wishing to establish a fund can contact Brie Griset Smith, senior vice president of charitable giving, at IECF headquarters in Riverside (951-241-7777); John McGuirk, regional charitable officer at IECF’s Coachella Valley office (760-836-2400); or Darcy McNaboe, regional charitable officer at IECF’s San Bernardino office (909-644-6221).