Charitable foundation

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Charitable foundation
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Charitable foundation (also a foundation) is a category of a non-profit organisation or charitable foundation that usually provides funding and support to other charitable organisations through grants, but can be directly involved in charitable activities. and private foundations that are usually provided by an individual or family. However, the term "foundation" may be used by organisations that are not involved in public grants[1].

Foundations are non-profit organisations created specifically to finance charitable activities. Foundations are an important source of funding for newly established NPOs and new programmes within established NPOs, as many prefer to support new, innovative initiatives. With this in mind, the foundations provide only 9.8 percent of the $200 billion of the $200 billion donated annually from private sources to non-profit organizations[2].

Definition set by R. Jenkins says that charitable foundation currently face double lower pressures returns on investment and higher requests from beneficiaries as public funding is reduced in the new and a more stringent economic environment[3].

Foundation characteristics

Private foundations have several characteristics that make them different other charities[4]:

  • are usually dependent on a single donors (or families) for their funds and do not receive any financial support from wider public fundraising;
  • have exceptional independence because they often retain the contributions received as a capital fund and spend only the income that the capital fund earns;
  • instead of acting, the charity schemes or research activities themselves grants to other charities, institutions or individuals to carry out such work.

Foundations versus economic downturn

The charitable foundations responded in several ways to because of declining stock values[5]:

  • Many foundations try to minimise their subsidy cuts by concentrating the necessary cuts in their operating budgets (e.g. redundancies, staff freezes, travel restrictions).
  • Some foundations have used the reserve funds to maintain or increase the level of grants, as the economic downturn has resulted in an even greater demand for the programmes offered by their scholarship holders.
  • Some foundations are reducing the number of organisations they serve and maintaining this level of support, while others have cut the full range of each grant.
  • Others limiting new donations.

Charitable trust

Philanthropic trust has existed in Australia for over a century. While such funds were generally exempt from income tax, it was only in 1963. With the introduction of additional services Funds, which in the form of charity trust allowed for donations to be deducted for tax purposes. These funds required the control of the majority of "responsible persons" and were obliged to raise public funds. Until 2001 Private or family philanthropy was not as efficient as similar structures in other parts of the United Kingdom and the United States.

After the 1999 report on the promotion of philanthropy, ensuring the creation of a new form of philanthropic structure, Prescribed Private Fund (PPF)[6].

The most important features of PPF were as follows[7]:

  • tax relief for donations;
  • exemption from current income tax;
  • No requirement for public fundraising.

Key management requirements included:

  • approved accumulation plan;
  • Grant limited only to eligible organisations in the DGR;
  • one independent 'responsible person' as a trustee/director;
  • annual audit of financial statements and annual information. Return to ATO.


  1. Council of Foundations, 2019
  2. Developing a fundraising plan: Foundation, 2019, s.1
  3. R. Jenkins, 2012, s.12
  4. L.M. Stone, 1975, s.57
  5. Developing a fundraising plan: Foundation, 2019, s.1
  6. D. Ward, 2009, Private Ancillary Funds Trustee Handbook, s.4
  7. D. Ward, 2009, Private Ancillary Funds Trustee Handbook, s.4


Author: Anna Syjud