For more than 30 years, the Central Alabama Community Foundation has been providing guidance, pooling resources and growing money to help both individuals and businesses fund worthy causes and organizations that match their interests.
The Central Alabama Community Foundation spreads around $4 to $5 million annually in our community, yet always at the direction of the donors who provide these funds. “We work with individuals and businesses to help them further their philanthropic goals,” said Burton Crenshaw, who has served as CACF president since 2011. “We help facilitate how to give their money in the community.”
With a lean staff of five, including Crenshaw, CACF offers donors several approaches for distributing charitable funds – each one customized to the donor’s interests. For example, a donor can set up a fund with CACF that functions similarly to a charitable savings account. The donor can direct which charities receive the funds, such as a church or other non-profits, or CACF can talk with donors about their interests and advise them about the charitable organizations that would be a good match for their donations. CACF does the work, and the donor receives the tax benefits.
“We do all the due diligence on nonprofits,” Crenshaw said. “We have the luxury of working on the donor side but also getting to know the nonprofits very well. We have some phenomenal nonprofits in our region that do phenomenal work.”
Not only can funds be distributed in the short term, but they can be used for legacy giving as well. “Every year for perpetuity, we give more out in their honor or memory to continue legacies of giving throughout families,” Crenshaw said.
Nonprofits can also apply for grants managed by CACF in such areas as family wellness and education or cultural engagement.
Importantly, the foundation doesn’t just serve wealthy donors. “Anyone can make a donation to us, and we push money out,” Crenshaw said. The “Community Champions” program, for example, is an annual giving opportunity for individuals to give at various levels to support Community Trust Grants for area nonprofits meeting diverse community needs.
In addition, CACF works with individuals who want to raise funds but don’t want to form their own nonprofit organization. In fact, they are currently assisting a group of individuals who wants to raise funds to erect a statue of the late Civil Rights hero and congressman John Lewis in his hometown of Brundidge. The Montgomery Police Department also operates a foundation through CACF.
Since its founding in 1987 in Montgomery, the CACF has branched out to cover 10 counties and, over the last 30-plus years, has distributed more than $60 million to nonprofit charities and organizations.
Although most donors have a tie to this region, charities are not exclusive to communities in Central Alabama. “Donors could pick anywhere in the United States,” Crenshaw said. The local giving, however, has been particularly impactful over recent months. As of October 1, 2020, CACF had distributed more than $500,000 to area nonprofits and churches providing direct aid related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Crenshaw noted that some of their new donors come by referrals from existing donors, some come from calls out of the blue, and they also work with financial planners. As an example, Jerry Mitchell, Principal with Jackson Thornton Asset Management, said, “We frequently have clients who are inclined to make charities part of their estate tax planning. We assist them by working with CACF to accommodate their needs. A good example of this is assisting a client who would like to use a Donor Advised Fund for their charitable gifts. In addition, we can help retirees with their retirement plan distributions by designating CACF for their Qualified Charitable Distributions.”
Mitchell added, “We have a great working relationship with the team at CACF; they help us facilitate client giving to wonderful organizations, so it’s a win-win.”
“We have the luxury of working on the donor side but also getting to know the nonprofits very well.” - Burton Crenshaw