Frequently Asked Questions

What exactly is a community foundation?

A community foundation is a grant-making organisation made up of funds that have been established by individuals, families and businesses. It is designed to pool, steward and deploy donations from unrelated donors, dedicated to the improvement of a given place. A community foundation invests the assets it holds, generating income which is distributed to bona fide charities and community organisations according to donors’ suggestions, areas of interest or through competitive grants made by the foundation itself. For donors, community foundations offer a one-stop shop for contributing to a community they care about. For communities, they ensure informed, strategic, and sustained support for the third sector. For smaller nonprofits, new or emerging charities and community groups, they offer potential extra funding support from one place and for larger nonprofits, an opportunity to develop a passive income source by establishing their own endowment that is professionally managed.

Read more information on community foundations here [PDF] and here.

What is the Bermuda Community Foundation?

Established in 2013, the Bermuda Community Foundation (BCF) is an independent grant-making organisation that raises funds for the benefit of Bermuda. Foundation funds will support nonprofit organisations, groups and causes in many aspects of community life—such as arts and culture, education, environment, and health and human services. The BCF was set up following two years of research and feasibility studies.

How does it work?

The BCF works directly with donors to understand their philanthropic vision and create a fund to support causes most important to them. Funds from different donors are then aggregated and managed to achieve greater returns. This makes it possible for smaller individual funds to enjoy the same economies of scale as a large foundation. Put simply, we:

  • Work to understand your vision and provide expert advice
  • Create a fund that reflects your vision and sets forth your charitable wishes
  • Manage your fund’s assets and make gifts to your favourite causes
  • Promote giving from others to increase philanthropic dollars for Bermuda to leverage your investment.

Once the fund is set up, the donor is encouraged to make gifts to that fund. These gifts may be made during your lifetime or as part of a longer-term legacy plan. All money deposited to the fund is invested by BCF, and each year, investment income is distributed to the local community as directed by you, the donor, if you wish.

We manage the donor funds over time, vet the nonprofits if you wish, write the cheques, and handle the reporting. We may also research nonprofits and programmes, and prepare a grant-spending plan for your fund.

Our grant-making staff checks proposed grants against your fund’s purpose and any other guidelines you’ve given us. After we make each grant, we carefully monitor the results. With some fund types, you can also invite others from the community to invest in your field of interest, which may change to keep up with the times.

The whole community can benefit from knowing where donations are going and how they have been spent.

Is the BCF a new kind of charity?

No, but it is the first of its kind in Bermuda. In fact, the first community foundation was established in Cleveland in 1914, and today there are approximately 1,400 community foundations worldwide. Compared to independent, operating and corporate foundations, community foundations are one of the fastest growing forms of philanthropy in the US1. The BCF was established in 2013 with seed capital from lead sponsors The Atlantic Philanthropies and RenaissanceRe, along with key investors Bloomberg Philanthropies and XL Foundation. In addition, support has been provided by a number of individuals and families setting up their own philanthropic funds of various amounts. In addition, support has been provided by a number of individuals and families setting up their own philanthropic funds of various amounts.

Who can set up funds at the Bermuda Community Foundation?

Anyone. Families, individuals, corporations, and other organisations can establish a fund at the BCF. Donors give because they share a common desire to give back to their community, whether it is a fund to tackle drug abuse, protect the environment, honor the memory of someone they love, support local arts organisations, or support any other important cause they care about.

How is the BCF different from the Centre on Philanthropy or
Bermuda Donor Forum?

While all three organisations are dedicated to serving the people of Bermuda, they do so in different ways.

The Centre on Philanthropy exists to train and build the capacity of nonprofit organisations in Bermuda, and it would be an inherent conflict of interest to be in a position to influence the funding they receive.

The Bermuda Donor Form provides opportunities for donors to network and exchange ideas, but does not manage philanthropic funds. The three organisations have complementary missions and will work together to advance the sector as a whole.

What are the benefits of becoming a donor to the BCF?

  • Expert investment advice and management.
  • Access to cutting-edge research and information.
  • High levels of accountability to ensure dollars are used wisely.
  • Public relations and branding opportunities.
  • Special invitations to roundtables, events, and other initiatives.
  • View our policies [Doc, 90KB]

How can you help my company or family with charitable giving?

BCF can make your corporate giving easier by alleviating costs associated with staffing and administering your corporate giving programme or family philanthropy. For donors who do not have a full-time or primary person to manage their charitable giving programme or who wish to outsource all or part of the grant-making function, we offer three levels of service:

  1. General Access to Grant-making Information
  2. Fully-Managed Grant-making Services—BCF makes grants on behalf of the donor to best and maximum impact
    • Option 1: Management of unsolicited applications and proposal
    • Option 2: Strategy-driven grant-making process—RFP for grant proposals
  3. Fee-Based Donor-Advised Grantmaking Services—BCF provides advice and support to a donor who does not have a BCF Donor Fund; donor makes final recommendations
    Corporate and family donors benefit from cost and resource efficiencies built into the structure. BCF’s information services are run on a shared technology platform and all grant-making processes are clustered and executed on a quarterly cycle.

Donors and their designates, i.e. families, trustees, employees or in-house corporate philanthropy committees, can be involved as much or as little as is wished in the community foundation’s outsourced grant-making process.

Which nonprofits receive payments from the BCF?

This is entirely up to the donor who sets up the funds. The donor may specify which particular nonprofits (or, more generally, for what charitable purposes) are to receive the annual distributions; or the donor may leave the gift “unrestricted,” allowing BCF to decide where the money is most needed each year. Many donors choose both; they specify a certain percentage of the distribution go to particular charities and leave the rest unrestricted. Some donors leave a specific sum (rather than a percentage of their estate) through BCF.

How are donor funds managed?

Each fund is separately monitored and accounted for. The capital of each fund is combined with all other funds (to achieve economies of scale) and invested as part of the whole.

BCF has a specific Board Investment & Finance Committee whose main role is to manage the BCF investments.

Once the fund reaches its established minimum threshold, that committee appoints investment advisors and the committee liaises with advisors to monitor investments.

How are grantmaking decisions made?

Distributions of approximately four percent from each fund are made on an annual basis. BCF makes distributions in accordance with instructions given by the donor when the fund was created. Where the fund is wholly or partially untagged, BCF makes the decision as to where distributions are to be made. BCF has a Board Grants Distribution & Programmes Committee whose main role is to advise on these distributions.

This committee receives applications on a semi-annual basis, investigates and considers applications and makes recommendations to the BCF board as to how the available funds shall be distributed.

Note: If the charity or nonprofit goes out of business, changes its mission, or should a future board determine that circumstances have changed so as to "render unnecessary, undesirable, impractical, or impossible continued support," the BCF will redirect funds to other organisations without losing time or depleting the fund with expensive court proceedings. This board authority, called the variance power in many jurisdictions, is useful both for long-term designated funds and funds whose specific focus becomes obsolete. A robust process ensures a BCF board committee carefully reviews the situation before recommending any change to the full board.

How is BCF funded?

All BCF board and committee members are volunteers and are unpaid for their work in these roles. However, there are costs (staff, salaries, rent, phone, postage, marketing, etc.) in operating BCF. The board strives to keep costs as low as possible: we deliberately run a “lean and mean” operation using some outsourced resources and economising on rent and other operational costs by sharing office space, technology, etc.  In order to cover operating costs, BCF donors are asked to consider make initial donations to the BCF fund.

In addition, fees assessed on the capital of the funds are donated to BCF each year.

Who runs BCF?

A board of governors administers BCF, some of whose members were appointed after a request for expressions of interest was placed in Bermuda newspapers in 2012. Board members are appointed by three members of BCF who solicit applications from the community via a self-nomination process. This process provides a transparent and robust governance model in which it would be extremely difficult for any individual or group to take control. Certain tasks are allocated to a range of support committees, but ultimately the board is responsible for BCF’s mission integrity and welfare. We are a transparent institution in terms of how we operate. Information on our policies and procedures is available at www.bermudacommunityfoundation.org.

What are the fees?

The administrative fee is typically 1–1.5 percent of the value of the fund. However, certain funds requiring a higher level of administration may be 2.5-5 percent of the value of the fund. See below for fee details by fund type and fund start-up contribution minimums by fund type.

*REGRETFULLY, WE MUST ALSO NOW PASS ON FOREIGN CURRENCY PURCHASE TAX (FCPT) AND FOREIGN CHEQUE CASHING CHARGES TO THE DONATION, IN ADDITION TO THE 1% ADMINISTRATION FEE.*

*ALL credit card donations are subject to a 5% administration fee which covers all 3rd party charges.*

 

I’m interested in learning more. Whom do I contact?

For more information, go to www.bermudacommunityfoundation.org, call 441/294-4959 or write to
Myra Virgil at info@bcf.bm.