How Do I Give Through the Cleveland Foundation?

There are many ways that you can contribute your charitable dollars, now and in the future. From donor-advised funds (which allow you to engage in active grantmaking) to Building Cleveland’s Future fund (which relies on the foundation’s knowledge of the community for grantmaking decisions), our funds allow you to select the manner in which you want to invest in Greater Cleveland.

If You Want to Make an Immediate Impact

Donor-Advised Funds

Donor-advised funds allow donors to recommend grants that support specific nonprofit organizations. Donors – and their children, if desired – advise or recommend grants from their fund to support nonprofit organizations. Donors can learn about community needs from the foundation’s donor-focused educational seminars and information, and work with foundation staff to create a lasting, impactful philanthropic legacy.

Supporting Organizations

A supporting organization is often used as a more efficient alternative for a private or family foundation. It is a separate nonprofit entity operating in connection with the Cleveland Foundation. Through its own board (on which the donor or donors may serve), a supporting organization determines its investment strategy and grant priorities.

Partnering with the Foundation on Vital Issues

The foundation has created special funds to address important issues facing Greater Cleveland. Donors are invited to participate with the Cleveland Foundation on major initiatives, such as improving public education and promoting economic development.

Building Cleveland’s Future Fund

Critical needs in the community change, often very quickly.  This fund enables the foundation to be flexible, responsive, and impactful in meeting those changing needs.

Field-of-Interest Funds

You can create a fund to support a broad area, such as the environment or health care. By naming a program area and not a specific organization, flexibility exists to meet the ever-changing needs of the community.

Lake-Geauga Fund

This special fund is dedicated to nonprofit organizations in Lake and Geauga counties. Grantmaking is directed by an advisory committee of community leaders living in one of those counties.

Scholarship Funds

These funds support individuals pursuing college degrees, technical/vocational training certification, and nontraditional students returning to the work force.  They can be named to honor a person, occasion, or place. Donors work with foundation staff to devise selection criteria. Donors may, if desired, also participate on scholarship selection committees with foundation staff and foundation-appointed community volunteers to identify recipients.

Designated Funds

You can designate a specific nonprofit organization to receive grants in perpetuity.

Organizational Funds

Organizations establish these funds to provide financial support in perpetuity and as a conduit for planned gifts.

If You Want to Plan Today to Give Tomorrow

A planned gift is a charitable donation created during your lifetime but not available to the Cleveland Foundation until sometime in the future. Types of planned gifts include:

Bequest by Will

A bequest to the Cleveland Foundation is the simplest means for providing for the future of your community and your favorite charities.

Life Insurance

Life insurance policies are a unique planning tool; you can name the Cleveland Foundation as a beneficiary of an existing policy or even create a new policy as you develop your philanthropic legacy.

IRA or Qualified Plan

Naming the Cleveland Foundation as the beneficiary of retirement assets is one of the most effective ways to include philanthropy in your estate plan.

Charitable Gift Annuity

A charitable gift annuity allows you to receive income for your lifetime in exchange for a gift today that will provide future benefits to the charities of your choice.

Charitable Remainder Trust

A charitable remainder trust allows you to provide for multiple beneficiaries and receive an income tax charitable deduction today and benefit your favorite nonprofits in the future.

Charitable Lead Trust

Assets transferred to a lead trust pay income to the Cleveland Foundation annually, for a term of years or your lifetime, and the remainder is typically paid for the benefit of you or your heirs. 

What Can I Give?

A variety of assets can be used to make charitable gifts, including:


Cash gifts are an easy way to make an impact in your community and allow you to give at any time.


Securities, both publicly traded and closely held, can be used to set up a fund.

Real and Personal Property

Gifting real and personal property often allows an individual to contribute more than they may have thought possible.

IRA/Retirement Fund Assets

Retirement assets are most often used as testamentary gifts, creating charitable funds as part of an overall estate plan.

Life Insurance

Life insurance makes it possible to make meaningful gifts to the community and to create a fund.

How Do I Decide?

You have a number of options when it comes to your charitable giving. Our staff will work closely with you and your professional advisors to identify a gift that meets your needs.

Charitable Giving Scenarios

Your Goals Your Actions Your Benefits
Make a quick and easy gift Contribute a gift in cash or by check An income tax deduction and immediate benefit for the community
Make a gift with other existing sources Example: Donate a life insurance policy you no longer need Current and possible future income tax deductions
Defer a gift until after your lifetime Bequeath cash, property, or a portion of your estate An estate tax deduction
Make a gift while minimizing the impact on taxes and capital gains Contribute long-term appreciated stock or other securities A charitable deduction that may reduce capital gains tax
Minimize the two-fold taxation on IRA or other employee benefit plans Designate a fund at the foundation as one of your beneficiaries May reduce tax liability on assets left to heirs
Secure a fixed payment stream and make a gift to benefit charity Create a charitable gift annuity Tax benefits and fixed payments for life
Receive income today while creating a permanent philanthropic legacy for the future Create a charitable remainder trust that pays income to you during your lifetime for a designated time period At maturity, assets benefit the fund you establish to meet the community needs important to you