Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Overview

What is the Shalom Austin Jewish Foundation?    
The Shalom Austin Jewish Foundation serves as a center for Jewish philanthropy by partnering with donors & community organizations to fulfill their philanthropic goals and to secure the Jewish community now and in perpetuity. Through planned giving and endowment development, the Jewish Foundation makes a lasting impact in the name of the Jewish community, at home in Austin and around the world. The Jewish Foundation was established in 2014 and at the end of 2019, had assets remaining valued at over $9M.

What is the Jewish Foundation’s relationship with Austin Community Foundation?
The Jewish Foundation funds are administered in partnership with the Austin Community Foundation (ACF). The funds are held and managed by ACF, representing more than 50 years of established success in fostering philanthropy, ensuring your investments flourish and make a meaningful difference in the programs and traditions you value most, now and forever. ACF stewards approximately $306 million in assets in more than 1,200 charitable funds.

Realizing Your Philanthropic Goals through the Shalom Austin Jewish Foundation

What is a Donor Advised Fund?
You can create a Donor Advised Fund (DAF) using a variety of sources including check, credit card, stock transfer, and liquidation of other assets and then over time, you can distribute (aka grant or gift) those funds to multiple qualified organizations at your convenience. A good analogy is to think of your DAF as your “charitable giving checkbook”. You can also choose to spend a portion of your fund and endow a portion to sustain your philanthropic goals in permanence. You can choose to make your children successor advisors or leave the remainder to any organization, including Shalom Austin.

What is an Endowment Gift?    
An endowment gift supports an organization or a cause you want to fund in perpetuity. It is a way that you can leave a legacy and demonstrate your values to future generations. Shalom Austin has begun an Annual Campaign endowment initiative, so this gift can live on in perpetuity.

The principal remains in perpetuity and annual distributions are made to the beneficiary from the funds’ earnings. The amount awarded each year is usually 4% of the fund’s average value for the preceding 20 quarters (valued as of December 31 each year). In your fund agreement, you can address concerns regarding the future of your beneficiaries (e.g., What if a beneficiary organization ceases to exist or its mission changes dramatically and is no longer aligned with your vision?).

Jewish Foundation also maintains endowment funds for organizations, such as Congregation Beth Israel and Hebrew Free Loan of Austin.

You can create an endowment in which you support the organizations or interest areas you care about. The corpus of the fund is not touched, but rather the earnings from the funds will support the organizations for generations to come. Funds are invested and grow through dividends and interest. An endowment can be funded from today’s assets or from an after-lifetime gift.

What is a Bequest?          
A bequest is the act of giving cash or an asset through a Last Will and Testament and is one of the easiest gifts to make. To leave a bequest, your attorney needs to write a provision in your will or have a codicil prepared that states your charitable intentions. Please contact the Shalom Austin Development Department for sample bequest language.  

How Does It Work?

Do all gifts need to be given to Jewish organizations?    
No. You can select any non-profit organization that reflects your values and charitable interests. You can also target a field of interest, such as Jewish education or geriatric care.

Grants can only be awarded to non-profit, charitable organizations, governmental entities (e.g. University of Texas), or a religious institution. Jewish Foundation funds are prohibited from lobbying and political activities. Grants may be made to any nonprofit in the United States and, with some additional administration, to international organizations.

Can my children recommend where the money goes?    
Yes. You can name your children as advisors for part or all of your funds. The Jewish Foundation encourages this opportunity for a family dialogue about the kind of legacy you want to leave and how your children can help shape it. Shalom Austin professionals can help you explore the options for intergenerational legacy planning, to find the best solution for you and your family.

How does the Jewish Foundation manage my funds and investments?        
Donors select from several investment options, ranging from long-term active to mid-term passive management. Any earnings from your investment stays in the fund, allowing for more money available to grant out to the organizations you choose to support. The funds are managed by ACF’s highly experienced investment counsel firm and overseen by a committee of seasoned investment and business professionals drawn from ACF’s Board of Directors and the larger business community.  The Jewish Foundation Committee monitors fund performance regularly. There is also an option to “not” have your funds invested. Please refer to the Investment Options sheet for additional details.

Are my transactions with the Foundation confidential?  
Absolutely. If a donor wishes to remain anonymous, the Jewish Foundation and ACF will not share your information with any organization. As administrators of the fund, select ACF and Shalom Austin professionals see a record of your donations.

How Do I Make it Happen?

What is the minimum amount to set up a fund?      
To create a Donor Advised Fund, a minimum of $5,000 is required. The minimum recommended balance is $3,500.  

To establish a named endowment fund, it requires a minimum of $25,000 to assure distributions large enough to support the intended purpose. The Shalom Austin Development Department is happy to work with you to establish this minimum gift over time, if you don’t have the minimum amount available at one time.

For a bequest, you may bequeath a specific dollar amount or specify a percentage of your estate. Percentages work well because you may not know the exact assets that will be available in your estate. You can bequeath a percentage of your estate to Shalom Austin and then, in the fund agreement, specify the percentage that each beneficiary will receive. You can also decide to fund some smaller amount of your bequest now, so you can see the results of your generosity, and then fund the remainder through your estate.

Can I give assets other than cash to a fund?
Yes. You may contribute stock, mutual fund shares, and, in many cases, privately held stock, real estate or other tangible property. ACF will sell the asset based on their policies.

What if I move to a different city or state? Is this only for Austin, TX?
You do not need to be a resident of Austin to have funds with the Jewish Foundation and your legacy plan can be easily altered to reflect the changes in your life. Your beneficiaries are also not geographically limited to Austin, TX.

Should I talk to my lawyer and accountant?
We strongly recommend that you consult with your own professional advisors regarding your planned giving, especially as it relates to tax deduction rules (and itemization). If you are using an asset other than cash to create or contribute to your donor advised fund, we are happy to work with you and your advisor to facilitate the transfer of assets. Shalom Austin professionals are also available to talk to you and your advisors together to ensure that your legacy plan is tailored to best meet your expectations, your goals and your means.

Does it make sense to close a fund and if so, how and when can I close a fund?
Contributions to a DAF are irrevocable gifts. All money in the fund must ultimately be held for or disbursed to qualified public charities. If you make grant requests equaling the entire balance of the DAF, once the balance is $0, if you don’t replenish or add more funds to it, the fund will close.

What Might I Use A Donor Advised Fund For?

May I pay for my JCC membership or a fundraising gala from this fund?
If your JCC membership entitles you to a material benefit (one that is more than incidental) – like health club privileges or other goods or services – it would be unlawful for that membership to be paid from a DAF, and ACF will have to deny the request.  Similarly, the fund cannot pay for a fundraising event for your favorite charity’s annual gala if a meal or other more than incidental benefit is conferred.

May I pay for my synagogue dues?
This is the exception to the membership rule. Because no physical goods or services are exchanged for your dues, they can be paid out of a DAF.  

What information is provided to an organization when they receive a gift (grant) from your fund?
In addition to the check or electronic payment, a cover letter will be sent to the organization notifying them that the donation came from your Jewish Foundation fund and providing your name and address. If you choose to remain anonymous, the letter will state that the donor wishes to remain anonymous.  More often than not, the organization receiving a grant from your fund will send you a thank you note acknowledging their receipt of the gift, but you do not need to save these letters for tax purposes. The only documentation that pertains to your taxes is when you add to your fund (when you establish it and if you replenish it).

For more information and to schedule a meeting, email foundation@shalomaustin.org.