What is the Heron Creek Community Foundation? HCCF is a Donor Advised Fund, organized under the auspices of the Gulf Coast Community Foundation (GCCF), a 501(c)(3) organization.  All donations not tied to fund-raising events are sent directly to the HCCF fund at GCCF and have the the same tax deductibility as a 501(c)(3) organization.  HCCF was created by the residents of Heron Creek to provide a structured platform for charitable giving.

What are the goals of the Foundation? To support qualified charitable organizations that serve the citizens of North Port; to provide a singular focus for the philanthropic efforts of Heron Creek residents; to build a fund which will provide for such support in perpetuity.

What’s the benefit to me to join the Foundation?  You will be providing long term support, aid and comfort for the needy in the community in which you have chosen to live.  HCCF provides you the great benefit of thoroughly vetting all awarded charitable organizations, thereby assuring members that their donated money is going to legitimate organizations to help only North Port residents who are truly in need.    We also coordinate periodic food drives to assist local students and their families. 

As an individual, what is the difference in giving to the Foundation and giving directly to a charitable organization?  The money given to the Foundation in the form of donations will be deposited and grow in a managed account. As explained above, the principal will remain in the managed account while the income (investment gains, interest and dividends) will be added to fund-raising net income and awarded each year as grants to worthwhile charities.  HCCF secures stipulations that the awarded funds will be utilized solely to benefit North Port and, particularly, those citizens in real need.  On the other hand, direct donations to charities, which have immediate needs for on-going projects and expenses, is usually spent within one year and may not even be used to support your community. By donating to HCCF you are creating a legacy that will help others for years to come.

Is one method of giving better than the other?  No one method of giving is superior to the other. There will always be needs to be filled, both immediate and long-term. For example, a monetary or in-kind donation to a food bank helps fill an immediate need. A donation to the Foundation will go on for years because the principal will continue to generate income which will be awarded as grants to charitable organizations. Some individuals prefer one method over the other while some do both.  We have created policies that allow for minimum contributions to be a voting member (less than one night out for dinner per year at a fine restaurant), allowing a member to also continue to donate to their other favorite charities.

Who decides where our money goes?  A Grants Committee composed solely of Foundation members will accept grant requests from 501(c)(3) organizations that serve North Port. The committee will review the grant requests, financial documents, and make site visits. The findings and recommendations of the Grants Committee will be passed on to the Foundation’s Board of Directors who will then approve or deny each grant request.

How do charitable organizations qualify for grants from HCCF?  The requesting charity must be a 501(c)(3) organization which serves North Port and has been fully operational for at least two years.  A specific grant application will be provided as well as a list of documents required for submission to the Grants Committee, including but not limited to a list of its Board of Directors, a copy of its current 501(c)(3) letter from the IRS and its budget or latest audit. 

How do charitable organizations know how to submit grant requests to HCCF?  The required application and full and complete instructions are provided through our web site.  The charitable organizations are encouraged to contact the Foundation to see if their request is within our guidelines before spending its staff and volunteer time in writing a grant proposal.

How many grants will be awarded?  The biggest factor is the amount of income the Foundation has earned, which translates into how much money has been contributed and how well our investments have done. At this time HCCF plans to have one grant cycle per year in the Fall.  The Foundation uses a formula to determine the available fund: Net proceeds from fund-raising events plus investment returns, less investment expenses.

How do I know the grant is used for what it is intended?  Upon making a grant request, the requesting charitable organization executes a form which allows the Foundation reasonable access to evaluate the request and to also make certain reports on the usage of the grant money awarded.  Charitable organizations who regularly receive grant money are familiar with these requirements and forms.  Follow up sites visits will also be made for all approved grants.

Why is HCCF affiliated with the Gulf Coast Community Foundation?  By affiliating with GCCF the Foundation is able to provide full IRS deductability under 501(c)(3), while enjoying considerable savings of both time and money.  This affiliation also allows us to draw on the experience and expertise of a well-established and respected organization.  GCCF provides us with IRS documentation, administrative support, fund raising ideas, training at minimal cost and its full vetting procedures for all organizations applying for a grant.

How do I find out what the Foundation is doing and where grants were awarded?  The Foundation has a web site which is kept current with a list of all awarded grants.  In addition, the web site allows the public to see minutes of all Board meetings and monthly financial statements.  HCCF believes in full transparency.  

How does HCCF raise money to make grants? HCCF raises money through membership and other contributions, and fund-raising event net proceeds.  These monies are invested through GCCF as explained above.  The HCCF Board of Directors is responsible for determining the amount of money available for distribution and the final approval of all grant request disbursements.