About Your Giving Circle Fund | InFaith Community Foundation

About Your Giving Circle Fund

Giving Circle Fund Policies & Guidelines

At InFaith Community Foundation, we’re committed to providing you with flexibility, proven stewardship and exceptional service to make the most of your Giving Circle Fund. We look forward to serving your giving circle and assisting with grantmaking goals. Whenever you have questions regarding your Giving Circle Fund or any of the policies and guidelines described, please contact InFaith at 800-365-4172 or contact us via email.

What is a Giving Circle Fund?

A giving circle is a form of participatory philanthropy. Through a giving circle fund at InFaith Community Foundation, each giving circle participant makes a gift or gifts to the pooled fund and receives a charitable tax deduction for their gift. As a group, the giving circle determines IRS-qualified charities to receive support.

Your Giving Circle Fund Agreement

Your InFaith Community Foundation Fund Agreement describes how your giving circle fund will be administered and is based on information provided in the online application. This Fund Agreement must be signed and received by InFaith Community Foundation before participants make gifts to your giving circle fund.

You have the option to name a contingent charitable beneficiary in your Fund Agreement. This charity would receive support should your giving circle cease to exist. For example, some giving circles may select the church or other charity with whom its participants are affiliated. Your circle may also name an InFaith Collaborative Fund as your contingent charitable beneficiary.

To make changes to your Fund Agreement, please contact InFaith Community Foundation.

Role of Fund Advisor

The person designated to serve as Fund Advisor to your giving circle fund is typically the chair or lead advisor of the giving circle, or perhaps treasurer or president of the group. For purposes of the Fund Agreement, giving circles are encouraged to designate a specific position within their circle versus an individual’s name for the Fund Agreement.

The role of Fund Advisor includes responsibility for requesting grant distributions to charitable organizations. These requests are to be in agreement with any decisions, policies and purposes established by the participants of the giving circle and after the appropriate decision making process is complete. Additionally, for invested giving circles (those that only grant a portion of gifts each year, investing the remainder to grow over time for long-term support of charities), the Fund Advisor is responsible for recommending the investment allocation of giving circle fund assets.

The Fund Advisor receives online giving circle fund statements and has full online access to your giving circle fund at inFaithFound.org.

Authorizing Online Access to Your Giving Circle Fund

The Fund Advisor of your giving circle fund may authorize additional interested parties, such as co-chairs, executive committee participants, or professional advisors (e.g., financial advisor) with read-only online access to information regarding your giving circle fund. This authorization can be made when the online application is completed or updated by the Fund Advisor once the giving circle fund is established. Please contact InFaith for instructions.

Financial advisor(s) identified in the online application are provided with read-only online access to your giving circle fund activity (i.e., contact information, contributions and distributions). If you wish to authorize or restrict online access to your financial advisor and/or others, please contact InFaith.

Giving Circle Fund Disclosure

You can provide InFaith Community Foundation with permission to publish your giving circle fund’s name in InFaith publications (e.g., annual report, newsletters, social media and website) by checking the designated box in the online application. If no box is checked, InFaith assumes you do not wish for your giving circle fund to be listed publicly. You also have the option to have your giving circle fund’s name shared with charities when grant distributions are sent. If no box is checked in this section of the online application, your giving circle fund’s name will not be shared with benefiting charities, and grants from your giving circle fund will be anonymous. You may change your disclosure preferences at any time. To do so, contact InFaith.

Making Gifts to Create Your Giving Circle Fund

InFaith’s minimum gift for giving circle funds is $200 per participant and a minimum of $1,000 for the giving circle fund. (For example, if each participant makes the minimum $200 gift, five participants are required.) Your giving circle may establish a higher minimum annual gift amount for participants if you choose. Participants may make multiple gifts to reach the minimum, providing each individual contribution is at least $200.

Participants of your giving circle may make contributions with any of the following: check, wire transfer, ACH bank transfer, credit card, stock/bonds and mutual funds, real estate, other real assets and/or closely-held stock (the minimum for gifts of real estate or closely-held stock is $200,000). Giving circles are not eligible to receive qualified charitable distributions from an IRA.

When making gifts of cash to your giving circle fund, please make checks payable to InFaith Community Foundation. Names and contribution amounts of individual participants will be disclosed to the Fund Advisor, unless the donor requests to be anonymous.

Additional Gifts

Participants are welcome to make additional gifts to your giving circle fund at any time. Please contact InFaith if you have questions on how to make additional gifts or wish to consult with an InFaith gift planner.


Charitable gifts to InFaith cannot be revoked once the transfer of gift assets is complete.

Tax Considerations

As InFaith is a public charity, gifts made to your giving circle fund are generally eligible for the maximum charitable tax deductions available under IRS regulations. Each charitable tax deduction is based on the type of gift asset and when the asset is given. Please note that for gifts of cash, donors may deduct up to 60% of their adjusted gross income (AGI) and any portion of their deduction that exceeds this threshold may be carried forward for five additional tax years. For gifts of long-term appreciated assets (assets owned for more than one year), such as stock, donors may deduct up to 30% of their adjusted gross income (AGI) and any portion of their deduction that exceeds this threshold may be carried forward for five additional tax years.

The information above pertains only to federal taxes, not taxes at the state level, which vary. In all cases, please consult with your tax advisor for charitable tax deduction information specific to your giving situation.

Gift Acceptance & Tax Receipts

In accordance with procedures adopted by the InFaith Board of Directors, a duly-authorized InFaith officer or other designated staff person accepts your participant’s gifts on behalf of InFaith. For gifts of $250 or more, participants are encouraged to retain a copy of their gift receipt for tax filing purposes.

Policy for Selling Capital Assets

Contributions of non-cash assets, such as securities, real estate and other real assets, are sold by InFaith as soon as feasible. Net proceeds from the sale of these assets are directed to your giving circle fund and held in cash, money market or when appropriate (invested giving circles), invested according to InFaith’s investment policy and the Fund Advisor’s recommended allocation.

Fundraising Policy

InFaith cannot accept checks from individual participants in response to fundraising events promoting giving circle funds at InFaith (e.g., golf tournaments, banquets, silent auctions). The exception is when InFaith has agreed to sponsor and run an event, and all conditions outlined by InFaith have been met. Gifts received at a fundraising event for a specific giving circle fund should be made payable to the individual organizing the event, and are not eligible for a charitable tax deduction from InFaith.

Distribution of Grant Support

Grant distributions from your giving circle fund are sent directly to benefiting charities. InFaith cannot provide grant distribution checks to the giving circle/Fund Advisor for personal delivery. You may designate grants for general operating support or specific projects. Grants provide general operating support unless otherwise noted by the Fund Advisor.

Making Distributions

Your giving circle determines when the grant distributions are made as well as the criteria for grants. The Fund Advisor may recommend grant distributions at any time, provided they are in compliance with any parameters established for the giving circle fund, and after approval by appropriate decision making procedures for your giving circle. Grant distributions may be recommended online through InFaith’s website inFaithFound.org, or in writing.

Distribution Policies

At the recommendation of the Fund Advisor, distributions from the giving circle fund can be made in amounts of $200 or more to charities selected by your giving circle.

Qualifying Charities & Grantmaking Due Diligence

InFaith strives to ensure that grants from your giving circle fund achieve your giving intentions, and verifies the charitable status of all nonprofits receiving grants. Each grantee’s financial and program information is reviewed. While the vast majority of grants recommended by donors are honored by InFaith, the following types of grant requests are not permissible:

  • Grants that provide a more than incidental benefit to the participants or another third party. This includes: all or a portion of the cost to attend a charitable event, goods bought at charitable auctions, raffle tickets, grants to satisfy a financial obligation to any individual or entity, grants that fulfill fundraising pledges or other commitments, or that are directed to or for the benefit of specific individuals (e.g., school tuition, scholarships earmarked for individuals);
  • Grants to organizations whose purpose or work is not solely charitable or when the grant will be used for a non-charitable purpose (e.g., cemeteries, VFW, fraternal societies);
  • Grants to private non-operating foundations; and
  • Grants to supporting organizations (501(c)(3)s identified in 509(a)(3)) that do not have an IRS determination letter stating they are “Type I” or “Type II”.

For more information about permissible grants from your giving circle fund, please contact InFaith.

Visit InFaithFound.org/charity_research for information on specific charities and resources for evaluating them. More information is also included in your Fund Handbook [LINK]. Organizations receiving grants from your giving circle fund are requested to reference the name of your fund (example: The (insert fund name) of InFaith Community Foundation) in press releases, publications and/or other related communications (unless you requested anonymity).

Variance Power

As a community foundation, InFaith is governed by federal laws and regulations that require it retain “variance power.” This means that in accepting participant gifts, InFaith must have the ability to re-direct charitable support under certain circumstances, including if a charity loses its nonprofit status, support to a charity becomes unnecessary, the charity becomes incapable of fulfilling its mission, or is otherwise inconsistent with the charitable purposes of InFaith.

Grant in Full Giving Circles, Administrative Expenses

Giving circles established with the intention to select a charity or charities to receive a grant of the full balance each giving cycle, are assessed an upfront administrative fee of 1% on each gift made to the giving circle fund to cover program and administrative expenses. There are no on-going fees, or transaction fees for distributions from the giving circle fund. Fees are assessed on a per contribution basis and are subject to change.

Invest and Grow Giving Circles, Administrative Expenses

There is no fee charged to establish your giving circle fund. Once gift assets are received to your giving circle fund, an annual fee equal to 1% of the giving circle fund’s assets is assessed on a quarterly basis to cover program and administrative expenses. A minimum $25 quarterly administrative fee is assessed on giving circle funds with assets below $10,000.

Giving circle fund assets in excess of $1,000,000 are assessed a reduced fee of 0.5%, and additional reductions occur with assets exceeding $5,000,000. Fees are assessed on a per fund basis and are subject to change. There may be additional fees for gifts of illiquid assets (e.g., real estate, closely-held stock, life insurance). Contact InFaith for additional information.

Investment Expenses

For giving circles that opt to invest their giving circle fund’s assets, InFaith invests in a diversified portfolio of no-load, institutional class investments. Each investment has internal management fees and expenses that are assessed.

InFaith Community Foundation Investments

All investments of InFaith are reviewed for approval by the InFaith Board of Directors. Assets of your giving circle fund may be commingled with the assets of other charitable funds that InFaith holds and administers.

Investing Your Giving Circle Fund’s Assets

Grant in Full Giving Circles - Giving circles established with the intention to select a charity or charity to receive a grant of full balance each giving cycle (within a year), are not invested in stock/bond securities, but held in cash equivalents (money market).

Invest and Grow Giving Circles - For giving circles that intend to hold assets for one to three years, giving circle fund assets are placed in a money market option to protect your gifts from market volatility. For giving circles that intend to hold some or all assets for longer than three years, the Fund Advisor may recommend the allocation for your giving circle fund’s investment as needed to meet your growth and grantmaking goals. Once assets are invested, changes in market value may cause the value of the underlying investments of your giving circle fund to be worth more or less than the value of the original contribution. All dividends and capital gains are reinvested.

The Fund Advisor may select one or more InFaith investment portfolios for your giving circle fund’s assets. A custom investment allocation may be created by selecting a combination of portfolios, based on the distribution needs and goals of your giving circle. If no custom investment allocation is checked in the online application, assets will be invested in the Mission Growth Portfolio.

After your giving circle fund is established, the Fund Advisor may recommend changes to the investment selection or allocation by submitting a request online or in writing to InFaith Community Foundation. The Fund Advisor may change your investment allocation quarterly.

Investment Recommendations

Whenever possible, InFaith follows the Fund Advisor’s investment preferences but as per IRS regulations, investment recommendations are advisory and InFaith may follow or decline recommendations. Investments are administered in accordance with the financial policies of InFaith and are subject to normal market and interest rate fluctuation risks. Any gain or loss generated by investments will be reflected accordingly in the giving circle fund’s value.

InFaith Community Foundation provides monthly statements to giving circles. These reports detail contributions, grants to charities, administrative fees and investment gains or losses. Statements for giving circle funds are provided online at inFaithFound.org/fundlogin. Please contact InFaith whenever you have questions regarding your giving circle fund.

InFaith Community Foundation staff is here to help your giving circle make informed and thoughtful giving decisions. Please contact us if we can serve you in any of the following ways:

  • Identify charities/nonprofit organizations that match your interests and values;
  • Research causes or issues important to you;
  • Link your giving with InFaith-led initiatives, joining other participants to provide support to specific charitable concerns; and
  • Assist you in making additional gifts to your giving circle fund.

The following are additional resources to help you evaluate charities and learn more about giving:

Your Plan for Giving – This questionnaire is designed to help your giving circle participants define their charitable interests.

Charity Navigator: Your Guide to Intelligent Giving (CharityNavigator.org)—Charity Navigator is America’s most prominent evaluator of charities. Their rating system examines two broad areas of a charity’s financial health—how responsibly it functions day to day as well as how well positioned it is to sustain its programs over time. Each charity is then awarded an overall rating, ranging from zero to four stars.

GuideStar (GuideStar.org)—with free registration you can view information on all 1.8 million nonprofits listed with GuideStar, and all are formally registered with the IRS or have proven they meet all IRS criteria for exempt organizations.

Donors/Fund Advisors are subject to the policies and guidelines outlined in this booklet. InFaith Community Foundation reserves the right to modify these policies and guidelines at any time.

Download GIVING CIRCLE FUND Policies & Guidelines