What is a community foundation?

A community foundation is a tax-exempt public charity created by and for the people in a local area. It enables people with philanthropic interests to easily and effectively support the issues they care about – immediately, or through their will. Donors can establish a charitable fund at the foundation by contributing a variety of assets and may also recommend grants – in their name, if they choose – to nonprofit groups they want to support.

Our Mission:

Fostering a community of philanthropy, for good, forever.

Organizational Structure

Incorporated in 1978 as the Buchanan Area Foundation, Michigan Gateway Community Foundation now serves Buchanan, Niles and all of Cass County. A Board of Directors from each respective community oversees these geographic areas. Members of the geographic boards make up the membership of the Foundation’s Board of Trustees.

Key Value Statements

1. Personalized Service: Community foundations help individuals, families, businesses, and nonprofit agencies achieve their charitable and financial goals by providing tools and resources that make giving easy, flexible, and effective.

  • Donors can create a charitable fund and recommend grants that support the issues and groups they care about – such as the arts, education, the environment, and healthcare – even if these groups are located outside of their local community. Or, donors can rely on the foundation to make grants that reflect their particular interests.
  • We are an attractive alternative to starting a private foundation, since we handle all record keeping, reporting to the IRS, accounting, and investment management.
  • Donors who establish a fund at a community foundation benefit from the highest available tax deductions for charitable contributions.
  • Donors can establish a variety of funds, depending on their financial and charitable goals. Some approaches focus on giving in the near-term, while others enable donors to make giving a part of their estate planning strategy.
  • Donors have opportunities to be involved in the grantmaking process, including recommending grant recipients.
  • Donors can create an individual or family legacy by establishing a named fund at a community foundation – which can help ensure that future generations learn the value of giving back.
  • We can accept a variety of assets and facilitate complicated giving strategies.
  • We pool the assets of individual funds, giving us economies of scale to hire top investment managers.
  • Donors can choose to be anonymous in their giving.

2. Local Expertise: Community foundations have an in-depth understanding of the community’s challenges and the groups and individuals addressing them.

  • We closely monitor community issues, opportunities, and resources.
  • Our knowledge of the community enables us to make a difference by funding high-impact initiatives addressing a broad range of local needs.
  • Our expertise helps donors learn more about local issues in order to make their giving as effective as possible.

3. Community Leadership: Community foundations play a key role in addressing community needs, now and in the future.

  • We serve as community catalysts, convening diverse voices and groups to work on solutions to local issues.
  • We build endowments to ensure that grants are always available to support the community.
  • We foster greater giving and volunteering in our community.
  • We are governed by leaders with strong ties to their communities.

Representative Grants

The following are grants made in the recent past, by geographic service area, which represent the type of grants we make.

  • Buchanan – Pears Mill Restoration Project, Memorial Field Press Box Improvements, Buchanan District Library technology grant, Fernwood Botanic Garden Summer Concert Series, Junior Achievement expansion in Buchanan Schools, McCoys Creek Trail Project.
  • Niles – Brandywine High School Career Exploration Library, Howard Branch of Cass District Library architectural study, Lakeland Hospital Health Resource Library, YMCA for External Heart Defibrillator, Downtown Niles Main Street Initiative program support.
  • Cass County – High School Life Skills Seminar at Cassopolis High School, City of Dowagiac for children’s activities at Dowagiac Summerfest, Cass County Minority Coalition to provide anti-smoking, pro-health message to participants in county wide activities, Council on Aging Seniors Companion Program, Woodlands Health Foundation, Council on Aging Prescription subsidy program.