How CFNIL Works
Perhaps you've heard of the Community Foundation of Northern Illinois because someone you know received a CFNIL Scholarship. Or, perhaps you've driven on North Second Street and seen a sign engraved with that name. But what does a community foundation do? And how does CFNIL work? View this short video to learn more, or scroll below to read answers to FAQs about CFNIL.
Frequently Asked Questions
A community foundation is a nonprofit, public foundation, and grantmaker that serves a specific geographic area. Community foundations manage many funds, each created by a donor or donors for a specific purpose, all for the benefit of the foundation's service area.
The Community Foundation of Northern Illinois (CFNIL) was founded in 1953. Located in Rockford and serving Boone, Ogle, Stephenson, and Winnebago Counties, CFNIL stewards over 450 funds valued over $130M. Each year, through both designated and competitive processes, CFNIL distributes over $5M in grants and scholarships for the benefit of Northern Illinois.
To inspire endowment and promote philanthropy for the current and future needs of the people of Northern Illinois.
An endowment is a lasting, often permanent, gift invested with the intent to provide support for the long term. Over 90% of CFNIL's funds are permanently endowed; their principal will never be spent, ensuring a perpetual resource for our region.
We offer four main fund types, three of which are permanently endowed: Agency, Donor Designated, and Scholarship. A fourth type, Donor Advised, is a highly flexible, non-permanent option.
CFNIL staff meet with a donor to learn about their charitable goals and determine the right solution. Every fund is governed by a formal fund agreement. There is no establishing fee and no minimum starting balance. A fund may be established by a gift of cash, stock, IRA transfer, an intent for a bequest, and more.
Yes! As a 501c3 nonprofit, gifts to CFNIL are tax deductible to the extent allowed by law. Our EIN is 36-4402089.
CFNIL is proud to have earned a Platinum Seal of Transparency from Guidestar. View our full Guidestar profile.
There is no cost to establish a fund, regardless of the fund type, and no minimum starting balance. CFNIL assesses fees to all funds to cover administrative and operating costs. These fees are charged to the fund balance; you will never receive a bill from CFNIL!
Fees vary depending on the type of fund; current fees and other fund-type specifications are as follows:
|GOOD TO KNOW
|Agency Endowment Fund
|Created by a nonprofit for its own benefit.
|0.75% annual fee on the average daily balance of the fund.
|Gifts made by the Agency itself. Annual distributions of 4% of the fund's rolling 12-quarter average balance.
|Donor Advised Fund
|Created by a donor or donors to facilitate their charitable giving.
|1.25% annual fee on the average daily balance. If a local grant is made at least annually, the fund receives a 0.5% fee refund.
|Typically non-endowed. Minimum advised grant of $100, no limit on # of grants which may be made.
|Donor Designated Endowment Fund
|Created by a donor or donors to benefit one or more nonprofit organizations.
|0.75% annual fee on the average daily balance of the fund.
|Annual distributions of 4% of the fund's rolling 12-quarter average balance.
|Scholarship Endowment Fund
|Created by a donor or donors to support students.
|1.25% annual fee on the average daily balance of the fund.
|Purpose and criteria co-created by donor and staff. Donor(s) may participate in selection process.
Statements providing an accounting of the investment performance and other activities of every fund are provided on a quarterly basis. CFNIL also provides quarterly Stewardship Summaries that provide details on our overall portfolio performance, both the aggregate performance going back 10 years and the current quarter performance for each investment allocation.
While every fund established with CFNIL is tracked and accounted for individually, the total fund assets are pooled to maximize investment performance.
CFNIL utilizes Marquette Associates, an independent investment consultant, to manage its investment portfolio. Marquette provides guidance and recommendations to CFNIL's Finance Committee to inform their decisions about the investment allocation mix, and facilitates communication and activity between CFNIL and the individual managers for each asset class.
CFNIL's investment policy is structured to enhance investment performance while controlling risk through broad diversification of asset classes, investment strategies, and underlying managers.
Statements providing an accounting of the investment performance and other activities of every fund are provided quarterly. CFNIL also provides quarterly Stewardship Summaries that provide details on our overall portfolio performance, both the aggregate performance going back 10 years and the current quarter performance for each investment allocation.
The chart on the front of each Stewardship Summary reflects the Foundation's most recent asset allocation by asset class. Total Fund performance is also compared to the Policy Index. The Policy Index is a weighted total performance of the underlying target benchmarks for the asset classes in the Total Fund. When the total return of the Fund exceeds the total return of the Policy Index, it indicates that the Foundation's investment managers are collectively outperforming the weighted performance of their respective benchmarks or deviations between the actual and policy allocation have been gradual.
The motivations of individual donors vary. Donors may create designated endowments for the benefit of particular nonprofits or for a charitable purpose. They may create a scholarship endowment for students attending a particular school, studying a particular subject, or demonstrating certain character, ability, or need. Donors may create a donor advised endowment to take advantage of an immediate tax benefit or to retain the ability to advise grants from their endowment in the future.
Donors appreciate the concept of supporting a charity or a cause in perpetuity and leaving a legacy for future generations. Donors are often surprised to learn how easy it is to create an endowment at a community foundation and that there is a nonprofit institution dedicated to honoring their charitable intent.
No! The majority of CFNIL's existing funds accept additional donations. Many donors choose to give to an existing fund that supports a cause or organization that is important to them. Sometimes donors give in honor or memory of a loved one, often in recognition of a significant milestone such as a birthday or anniversary.
Unrestricted gifts (gifts without a specific fund designation) are divided between CFNIL's operating endowment (supporting the staff, capital, and other costs associated with running the foundation) and unrestricted grantmaking (added to the allocation for competitive and discretionary local grants, including the Community Grants Program).
In addition to financial support, CFNIL utilizes the time and talent of hundreds of local volunteers who review scholarship and/or grant applications. Learn more about volunteering with CFNIL.