Options for Charitable Giving

The Cleveland Foundation offers a variety of fund options to help your clients meet their philanthropic goals. From donor-advised funds (which allow your clients to engage in active grantmaking) to unrestricted funds (which rely on the foundation’s knowledge of the community for grantmaking decisions), our funds allow your clients to choose their level of participation.

Vehicles for Making an Immediate Impact

Donor-Advised Funds

Donor-advised funds are charitable funds for donors seeking active involvement in grantmaking. 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

Supporting organizations are separate legal entities that are affiliated with the Cleveland Foundation. Established with their own boards of trustees, grantmaking identities, and governance structures, supporting organizations enjoy public charity status and the professional services of the foundation, including staff and administrative support.

Partnering with the Foundation on Priority Areas

The foundation has created special funds designed to address the community’s priority areas. Donors are invited to participate with the Cleveland Foundation on major initiatives, such as improving public education and promoting economic development.

Area-of-Greatest-Need Funds

Donors can support changing community needs by providing unrestricted support. Donors may create separate funds or donate to the foundation’s endowment, current and future. The foundation’s board of directors will use the funds to address pressing community needs.

Field-of-Interest Funds

Donors who select field-of-interest funds are able to benefit specific programs in the arts, education, or another broad area. By naming a program area and not a specific organization, flexibility exists to meet the ever-changing needs of the community.

Lake-Geauga Fund

The Lake-Geauga Fund of the Cleveland Foundation provides grants to nonprofit organizations in Lake and Geauga counties. Established in 1987, the fund’s grantmaking is directed by an advisory committee of community leaders living in one of those counties.

Scholarship Funds

Scholarship funds support those who want to pursue education, whether they’re high school graduates pursuing a college degree or nontraditional students who are returning to the work force. 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

Oftentimes, donors wish to support a specific nonprofit organization. Once established, grants are made annually to the organization(s). Foundation staff monitor the organization to honor your client’s philanthropic intentions. With a designated fund at the Cleveland Foundation, your clients receive professional management and grant monitoring.

Organizational Funds

Organizations can establish funds at the foundation. Created to provide financial support to the nonprofit organization in perpetuity and as a conduit for planned gifts, the endowment can be an “arrow” in a nonprofit organization’s development quiver.

What Assets Can Be Used?


Cash gifts are an easy way to make an impact in the community and allow donors 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 he or she 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.

The Cleveland Foundation Fund Type Comparison

Areas-of-Greatest-need A permanent fund that does not designate a particular charity or area of interest for grantmaking. The donor relies on the Cleveland Foundation’s board of directors to distribute money from the fund to areas where the needs are greatest. $10,000
NAMED FIELD­-OF-INTEREST/DESIGNATED FUND A permanent fund that names a specific area of interest, such as education or the arts, as the recipient of grants from the fund. The donor relies on the Cleveland Foundation to distribute money from the fund to institutions within that area of interest. $10,000
NAMED DESIGNATED FUND A permanent fund that names a specific charitable institution as its beneficiary. The donor has indicated the beneficiary in the fund agreement. $10,000
DONOR-­ADVISED FUND A fund offering the ability for donors to make suggestions on which charitable causes are supported from the fund each year. Donors are permitted to make grant recommendations. This right may also be extended to children of the donor. $10,000
ORGANIZATIONAL  FUND A fund providing stable, predictable sources of income and future financial security to a 501(c)(3) charitable organization. The organization specifies representatives who are permitted to request distributions from the fund in accordance with the provisions of the fund agreement. $100,000
SCHOLARSHIP FUND A fund to provide support for young persons or those who wish to continue education later in life. The Cleveland Foundation appoints scholarship committee members; donors are permitted to recommend members based on objective criteria. $25,000
SUPPORTING ORGANIZATION An alternative to a private foundation that has its own board of trustees and grantmaking identities, but enjoys public charity status. The board of directors of the supporting organization makes its own grantmaking decisions. $5,000,000