Nancy M. Brown, President/CEO of the Winona Community Foundation, shares her wisdom on fundraising topics through the Winona Post’s Professional Forum. Click on the subjects below to learn more about them.

Brown’s past experience includes Senior Director of Development at Saint Mary’s University; Vice President/Consultant at Thompson & Associates, an independent consultant, Executive Director of Development at Winona Health, and Director of Major Gifts and Advancement Services at Winona State University. She is also an adjunct faculty member in the Master’s in Philanthropy and Development program at LaGrange College in LaGrange, GA.

She received her Bachelor of Arts degree from University of Wisconsin-Madison, and a Master of Science in Administration Degree from University of Notre Dame. She is also a Certified Fundraising Executive.

Community foundations work to encourage and grow charitable giving in a community. They do this with the goal of ensuring the community it serves is vibrant and thriving in many areas including health, safety, education, arts, environment and more.

Unlike most charities, a community foundation does not provide direct services or programming. Instead, they carry out this broad mission by building permanent endowment funds as well as non-endowed funds established by local individuals, families, businesses, or charitable institutions. The funds are invested back into the community’s nonprofits through grants.

They also serve as a resource to donors who may need advice or assistance on how to maximize their charitable giving. This includes answering questions on the best assets to make a gift, how to include charitable giving in estate plans, or how to evaluate a charity. Ultimately, a community foundation is a resource and tool for charitable giving whether directly to or through the foundation.

Well, that depends upon how you define “smart.” Actually, if you have held stock for more than a year, donating it directly to charity is one of the most tax-smart ways to give. Why? Because when you donate stock (or mutual fund shares) directly to charity, you avoid paying capital gains taxes. In effect, you are giving up to 20 percent more than if you sold the stock first and then made a cash donation.

In addition to the tax advantage of giving stock to charity, today’s tax environment makes contributing to a donor advised fund (DAF) extremely attractive. With a higher standard deduction, fewer people are itemizing. By funding a DAF, you can bundle multiple years of charitable giving in one year and direct those gifts over time. If you use an appreciated asset, you benefit from both avoiding capital gains and the ability to take the charitable deduction.

Everyone’s situation is unique, and I am happy to answer questions and provide options on how to maximize your charitable giving, but since I am neither an accountant nor attorney, you should always contact your professional advisor for advice specific to your situation.

Nancy M. Brown, CFRE